Jesus H. Christ first appeared in American print in the late 1800s—although Mark Twain argued that the expression began a century before that. And he should know because with hair like his, Mr. Twain had plenty of reason to curse.
The origin of Jesus H. Christ goes a little something like this:
Jesus is the artist formerly known as ????? . This is Ancient Greek to Bossy, but I think we all can agree that it must have been a bit clumsy to shout out, “Iota eta sigma omicron upsilon sigma!” every time you dropped an Ionic Architrave on your foot.
Nevertheless this continued until those wild and crazy Latin-speaking Christians of medieval Western Europe decided to establish a Christogram – which is a symbol that represents an abbreviation of Jesus Christ. Here’s what they did:
They plucked iota eta sigma from the longer Greek version above.
- Iota became an I.
- Eta became an H.
- Sigma became an S.
And the Latin interpretation of IHS became Iesus Hominum Salvator – which means Jesus, Savior of Men. It all makes perfect sense!
Problem: What does IHS have to do with Jesus H. Christ?
Well—occasionally iota eta sigma was transliterated to IHC due to the visually similar form of the lunate sigma. Which is a fancy way of saying C and S look alike. If you’re a Latin-speaking Christian medieval person. Or on drugs.
And then in the 17th century the Latin letter J was discovered hanging around some oint listening to azz. This letter J was given its own designation separate from the visually similar form of Iota—which is the Latin-speaking Christian medieval way of saying What You Talkin ‘Bout Willis?
So then IHC turned into JHC! Jesus H. Christ!
Either that or the H stands for Harold, as in “Our Father, who art in Heaven, Harold be thy name.”
Bossy Is Not kidding About Harold – It’s One Of The Many Theories You’ll Find Here.
Lyssa Ireland Thomas saysDecember 21, 2007 at 8:23 am
The way your mind works amazes me! I’d like to live inside your head for just one day. I bet it would be a blast!
Oh, The Joys saysDecember 21, 2007 at 8:28 am
Can you takle “Oh, My FREAKIN’GOT” next?
Avitable saysDecember 21, 2007 at 8:43 am
And this whole time I thought it was Jeebus.
Asthmagirl saysDecember 21, 2007 at 8:45 am
Thank goodness someone finally explained to me. I’ve spent my entire life wondering…
Dara saysDecember 21, 2007 at 8:54 am
I have an older brother named Harold…..my little brother and I always wondered why he was mentioned in the Lord’s Prayer. Thanks for clearing that up!
Hilary saysDecember 21, 2007 at 8:55 am
Too funny. A “Jesus H” line that cracked me up when I heard it was “Jesus H. Tapdancing Christ and His All Girl Band”
Best to your wee one. I hope she’s continuing to heal.
jackie saysDecember 21, 2007 at 8:56 am
How did Bossy know I’ve always wondered where the H came from?! Thank you for clearing up yet another one of life’s mysteries!
Happy Xmas! 🙂
Sarah @ Ordinary Days saysDecember 21, 2007 at 9:02 am
It all makes so much sence now! Thank you for bringing me into the light.
Molly saysDecember 21, 2007 at 9:06 am
I am so glad I know you!!! You are one of the smartest people I’ve run across in a long time. Thanks for blogging like you do, its a joy to read!!!
Grandma J saysDecember 21, 2007 at 9:07 am
Gotta love that Wiki H. Pedia!
Shellster saysDecember 21, 2007 at 9:15 am
This is groovy in a pedantic sorta way, Bossy. Your mind always amazes me. Now, according to “Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff” (an excellent read by Christopher Moore), I do believe the “H” in Jesus H. Christ stands for Hallowed, not Harold (or herald, or however the hell you spell it)! As for the other stuff…well, it’s all Greek to me.
Hope your daughter is doing well. Best of holidays to you!
Momo Fali saysDecember 21, 2007 at 9:15 am
I’m so glad I’ll have this info the next time I drop an architrave on my foot!
mary saysDecember 21, 2007 at 9:18 am
Good thing I was NOT drinkin’ my coffee…
mary saysDecember 21, 2007 at 9:20 am
when I read this!
makes perfect sense, anyway….
Ree saysDecember 21, 2007 at 9:22 am
Jesus H. Christ girlfriend! The intelligence of Bossy never ceases to amaze me.
jesslo saysDecember 21, 2007 at 9:28 am
Bossy, thank you so much for the daily entertainment…you really help me get through my day at work!
DD saysDecember 21, 2007 at 9:39 am
Jesus Christo on a pogo stick (wordy, but it works)! You have way too much time on your hands. You should be in that movie with Tom Hanks as one of the treasure investigators.
Victoria saysDecember 21, 2007 at 9:49 am
You so smart, Bossy. Hope your girlie is doing well.
Just Me saysDecember 21, 2007 at 9:49 am
So by that same token could Jesus be somehow related to Hark? As in Hark the Harold Angel?
Victoria saysDecember 21, 2007 at 9:49 am
You so smart, Bossy. Hope your girlie is doing well.
Julie Pippert saysDecember 21, 2007 at 9:51 am
This is priceless. Educational and entertaining.
I hope you know Anne Nahm at annenahm.com who has been running a series about Baby J cuts loose from the manger.
She has improved my vocabulary a hundredfold from plain old Jesus H. Christ and Christ on a Cracker.
And helped me improve my abdominals through unrestrained frequent laughter.
I’m forever indebted to the both of you for all the merry at Christmas.
Using My Words
Beck saysDecember 21, 2007 at 9:55 am
I always thought it was, “…Howard, be thy name”
Thanks for clearing that up!
Hotdog saysDecember 21, 2007 at 9:55 am
Oh Bossy. U B sew sm-hart.
soNOTcool saysDecember 21, 2007 at 10:11 am
Honestly? I’ve always called him Jesus FUCKING Christ.
Factoid: My birthday is on December 25, I am not a Christian, and my name means “Judas”. Heh heh heh.
Karen saysDecember 21, 2007 at 10:12 am
you really are a genius.
The Domestic Goddess saysDecember 21, 2007 at 10:20 am
It was great, it was better than Cats, I’m going to see Bossy again and again…
Audubon Ron saysDecember 21, 2007 at 10:46 am
I like the new look of the header.
new2you saysDecember 21, 2007 at 10:49 am
You already posted this awhile back.
Alice saysDecember 21, 2007 at 10:51 am
i… hmm. am not sure this cleared anything up for me. jesus h christ!
Howard saysDecember 21, 2007 at 11:02 am
OMG! The ‘J’ part KILLED me. Really. I’m typing from the great beyond. H says hi.
Honeybell saysDecember 21, 2007 at 11:09 am
It has never occurred to me to even wonder where that expression came from. But now I’ll be telling everyone I know!!
Loving your blog, so glad I found it!
Deb on the Rocks saysDecember 21, 2007 at 11:19 am
I decided to make a Debogram of my name, which is DOTR, and then I decided that the Theta rhymed with later so I turned it into a double L, and then the R was rotaed 170degrees for Winter Solstice, so I would like to be known as Dolly now. Worship me in the name of Parton.
pkzcass saysDecember 21, 2007 at 11:26 am
Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ, that was funny!
joeinvegas saysDecember 21, 2007 at 11:27 am
I lean more toward the Harold explination.
Oh – wait a minute – let’s ask the Mormons, they’ve had a more direct recent conversation with him (sorry, no disrespect intended, just trying to find somebody that speaks English that has spoken with JC besides Jerry Falwell)
farty saysDecember 21, 2007 at 11:30 am
Genius H. Bossy!
sue saysDecember 21, 2007 at 11:44 am
SoNOTcool, it’s only Jesus F****** Christ if you believe that he married that Magdalene chick and had kids. See you in Hell…
Whit saysDecember 21, 2007 at 12:10 pm
So what about the popsicle stick?
Little Miss Sunshine State saysDecember 21, 2007 at 12:19 pm
Jesus, Mary and Joseph and all the Little Saints (my Mom’s version).
I want a t-shirt that says “When I grow up I want to be BOSSY”
Tootsie saysDecember 21, 2007 at 12:30 pm
I’m pretty sure I just peed my pants.
TigerYogiji saysDecember 21, 2007 at 12:30 pm
But what’s the origin of “Jesus H. Christ on a unicycle”? 😉
Foolery saysDecember 21, 2007 at 12:41 pm
Seriously, I blame the Aussies. Wherever inexplicable nicknames or colorful language is involved, it can always be traced back to an Aussie. Christ on a bicycle, you’re funny, Miss Bossy.
More noogies aplenty to dish out to Miss Daisy.
Kevbear saysDecember 21, 2007 at 12:41 pm
Thank you Bossy! This is why the Kevbear reads the dear Bossy column. Just yesterday when I said Jesus H Christ when a car came outta nowheres and almost smacked us I was accussed of using the Lord’s name in vane. “No sir re Bob” said I… “It is something from somewheres” (due to many fun times in the 70’s Kevbear is not as sharp as some)and could not remember why it was not cursing but now I can be redeemed all thanks to the wisdom and knowledge that flows from I AM BOSSY! Thank You for saving my immortal soul just in time for Santa & Cookies!!!
David saysDecember 21, 2007 at 12:43 pm
hee hee hee, you said “shaft.”
stella saysDecember 21, 2007 at 12:45 pm
im back. sort of..slowly..and very behind. on everything.
and oh how ironic that bossy is talking jesus today too…
happy holidays to you!!!
magpie saysDecember 21, 2007 at 12:56 pm
Bossy, if I didn’t love you before, I would love you now. As it is, I love you more.
Swistle saysDecember 21, 2007 at 1:08 pm
I clicked over from Messing With Texas, and I’m sorry I did: Jesus H. Christ, all I need right now is ANOTHER awesome blog I have to keep up with. Okay, FINE, into the RSS reader. JEEZ.
Candy saysDecember 21, 2007 at 1:36 pm
My daughter asked me just the other day where the H came from, and I lied to her and made something up, which she believed and I think is still perpetuating. I could clear it up for her now, but … nah.
Biddy saysDecember 21, 2007 at 1:38 pm
so how does bossy explain the phrase “jesus h. christ on toast”? or is that just an abilene thing?
alison saysDecember 21, 2007 at 1:44 pm
Ya know, I always wondered. And since it’s my favourite blasphemous phrase when I stub my toe or drop some non-architrave object on my foot, it’s nice to know the provenance. Thanks.
Haley-O saysDecember 21, 2007 at 1:55 pm
Wow! Bossy is a great teacher. You learn something new here every day. Love it! Love the “Harold” theory, too!
Amy @ M&M of a Mommy saysDecember 21, 2007 at 2:50 pm
I wonder what my Latin studying pastor would think?
I found your through “Fine for Now”. I must go thank her for the great recommendation.
Mrs. Chicky saysDecember 21, 2007 at 3:02 pm
My favorite Catholic, current heathen self loves you right now. Fer Christ’s sake.
CableGirl saysDecember 21, 2007 at 3:03 pm
Ok, as a medieval historian who reads Latin I just have to say that this post had me practically pissing in my pants.
Thanks for the laugh!
Mrs. Chicky saysDecember 21, 2007 at 3:03 pm
My FORMER Catholic self…
Not favorite Catholic.
Jaysus Christ, Gawd damn it.
Christina saysDecember 21, 2007 at 3:13 pm
Of course, if H stands for Hominum, then is it Jesus Men-Christ? Or maybe just Jesus Man-Christ? That has a ring to it.
Debbie saysDecember 21, 2007 at 3:25 pm
My goodness, you have such a funny way with words! Thanks for the edumacation!
Lys saysDecember 21, 2007 at 3:53 pm
Oh. MY. God *ROFLMAO* I about died when reading this. Found your blog thanks to Ms. Hotfessional and she wasn’t kidding – this about had me ready to forward to any relatives that I know are still involved in the church…
Mari-Nanci saysDecember 21, 2007 at 4:07 pm
You are the cutest thing!!!!!!
Noelle saysDecember 21, 2007 at 4:15 pm
I always liked the Howard theory. It’s the same one that made Richard Stance (of pledge of allegiance fame) an American Hero.
flutter saysDecember 21, 2007 at 4:40 pm
patty saysDecember 21, 2007 at 5:56 pm
Jesus H. Christ Bossy, were DO you get the time? Now I know why you don’t sleep, get your hair cut or buy new jammies! Just think of all the people that will think of you when they utter this phrase and laugh! Continued healing vibes to the wee bossy. Luv ya.
Scottsdale Girl saysDecember 21, 2007 at 7:34 pm
Which metamorphasized into the now popular Jeebus H Christo…
Lea saysDecember 21, 2007 at 8:13 pm
I love the ionic order… damn those architraves…
mothergoosemouse saysDecember 21, 2007 at 8:14 pm
Christ on a cracker, you’re funny.
suzy saysDecember 21, 2007 at 8:38 pm
Ok Bossy, I have been lurking around your blog for a week or more now. I linked over from somewhere, in reference to your daughter’s accident. I have been too paralyzed by that trauma to speak up before. I have two daughters, and uh, it’s just too….
But now I am just driven to tears, this is so freakin funny.
BML saysDecember 21, 2007 at 8:44 pm
I always say “Jesus Herbert Christ” — the man should have a middle name, after all…
Dawn saysDecember 21, 2007 at 9:31 pm
I thought it was Howard….
1peanut saysDecember 21, 2007 at 11:01 pm
Ok I thought I was going crazy when i read the gingerbread post because I swore you wrote something like that before- Ha! now i know it. Busted ms. bossy. I definitely know you wrote this post last year- in response to a “dear bossy” email from moi! It’s just as funny this time around too though.
terri saysDecember 21, 2007 at 11:20 pm
LOL OMG! I grew up hearing my father say that!
always wondered what that meant!
I REALLY want whatever drug your taking!lol
your mind is scarey! lol
Natalie saysDecember 21, 2007 at 11:26 pm
Okay, so now I know that the H has an origination, but the rest of it? Way above my Friday night head!
zenmomma saysDecember 22, 2007 at 12:37 am
Bossy You Rock! Hope your little one is still on the mend.
Dee Loralei saysDecember 22, 2007 at 2:34 am
Bossy,You’re just damned funny, and I thank Dr.Zaius for directing me over here. My favorite holiday anecdote goes a bit like this (true story) way back in the early 1980’s when I was home for Semester Break from college, my sister was still in HS. My mother, little sister and I went shopping at the newest and most upscale mall in Memphis. Afterwards we bought a tree and were preparing to drive it all across the city to get it home. My mother was driving and pulled into traffic on a very busy street, and we basically sat there, stop and no-go for many,many,many minutes, waiting for light after light. Finally we get moving in the right direction and some woman pulls into our lane and my mother almost rear-ends her. Mom shreiks, “stupid b*&ch! Watch where you’re going!”
From the backseat, my little sister said “Mom, that wasn’t in keeping with the holiday spirit. It wasn’t very Christian of you.”
A minute later my mother says, much chagrined and chastised, “I’m sorry Betsy, you’re right……….” And then…
“Merry Christmas, you stupid Bi*&h!!!:-)
Later that night we were recounting our day and decided that the really bad driver deserved ” the stupid b**ch of the day award”
So from that one moment in time, my family starts our cursing, or cussing, with Happy,Merry (insert holiday here) you (defamation.) And we still award “Stupid Bi*&h of the day awards” on the unsuspecting.
Jesus H Christ! You people…..
Anyway, that’s my story.
Congrats on the Columbia acceptance and hopes and thoughts and prayers for the littlest Bossy.
kim at allconsuming saysDecember 22, 2007 at 4:55 am
And I’m left sitting here going, “Bossy, who are you!?!”
evie saysDecember 22, 2007 at 10:25 am
Wow, I love this blog! LOVE IT!
moosh in indy. saysDecember 22, 2007 at 11:17 am
Maybe if I hang around you long enough I can get into Columbia too.
Surcie saysDecember 22, 2007 at 1:57 pm
I bet my clergy-dude husband doesn’t even know this! Bossy, your blog is chock full of good stuff!
Prof. J. saysDecember 22, 2007 at 4:38 pm
Wow. Bossy. I feel so smart! Thanks for the linguistics lesson.
Queeny saysDecember 22, 2007 at 6:26 pm
I’ve finally met the woman who “actually does” know everything. My husband thinks it’s me, but I’ve got news for him.
As usual, Bossy, you slay me.
Jason saysDecember 22, 2007 at 10:57 pm
I have ALWAYS wondered this! And as usual, you shared the information in such an entertaining way. Bossy does it again!
niobe saysDecember 23, 2007 at 7:57 pm
Riiiiight. Next you’ll be telling me that that INRI thing that they put under or over or draped around the cross *doesn’t* stand for I’m Nailed Right In?
meleah rebeccah saysDecember 23, 2007 at 9:32 pm
Bossy gives the best tutorials. They should all be inside a book, that is sold in stores…..
Carmen saysDecember 24, 2007 at 2:17 pm
I bow down to your comic genius…
(well, I bow down to you, and to our Lord and Saviour Jesus H. Christ too.)
Your blog always makes me laugh out loud, but this one is perhaps the best so far…
Happy Holidays, Bossy!
Mom101 saysDecember 24, 2007 at 3:15 pm
I hope that next you’ll take on Jesus H Christ on a popsicle stick which, who knows, maybe it has something to do with some ancient doodle under the IHC that looks like said stick.
Merry and healthy holidays to the whole Bossy clan.
william saysDecember 27, 2007 at 8:23 am
How is it that you are as funny as you are.
Heather saysDecember 27, 2007 at 11:21 am
I learn something new on your site every week. And you make learning fun.
Artiface saysDecember 30, 2007 at 10:25 am
Bossy learned me somethin’…huh.
I didn’t post for 10 days before some kind reader sent out a distress comment. I thought I was too busy with Xmas and here you are giving out lessons about Jebusses middle name, with a wounded daughter, a giant dog with tree polyps, and a broken url.
Jesus H.F. Christ! You rock.
Merry Merry to you and yours,
(hope your baby girl is healing like the champ we all know she is)
Susan saysJanuary 1, 2008 at 10:33 am
And all these years I’ve been thinking H was for haploid! But back in 1850 they didn’t know from haploids and diploids and full-loids, did they? Bossy, you are a wonderful start to this new year! You bring a bigger smile than the Rose Parade. Health and healing to you and yours.
cyndy saysJanuary 12, 2008 at 5:54 am
To quote Homer (Simpson, of course), “Praise Jeebus!” this stuff is funny!!
Glenda K saysJuly 10, 2008 at 2:16 pm
Growing up in Ionia, MI we always thought the “IHS” banner hanging in the front of the Presbyterian Church stood for “Ionia High School!”