Gee willikers

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14 comments on this post.
  1. Steve Dunham:

    Maybe your questioner was contemplating euthanasia of somebody, “youth in Asia” being a phonetic version. If so, then “crime in Italy” is probably in the same category, though even when I say it out loud it doesn’t sound to me like anything except “crime in Italy.”

  2. Rex Fouch:

    “Criminitly!” or “criminitlies!” (the first i is long, penult accented) was often used as an expression of wonder or exasperation on our elementary school play grounds. In fact, I heard this form for years before I heard the term “criminy.”

  3. Terry:

    Holy Moses. Dang!

  4. Sir Elfrid "Pip" Pettìfòg VI, Esquire:

    Pompous remark
    Followed by some witty banter with a dryer than burnt crumpets English style “humor”
    (In an English accent using prentiously large words to establish intellectual superiority)

    Sir Elfrid “Pip” Pettìfòg VI, Esquire

  5. Anne:

    Dia duhit is Irish for God be with you, a greeting that would sound similar to gee will inkers.

  6. Jessie:

    In The Times (of London) on Jan 4 2016 an article about Arthur Ransome, author of Swallows and Amazons, was published (“Swallows and Amazons sails into a Norfolk buster over language” – page 16) where the phrase “gee whilikins” is noted to be of British origin, specifically from Norfolk dialect. It is noted as a swear word.

  7. Sarah:

    It is derived from IRISH PEOPLE, IRISH AMERICANs in NEW YORK, and their native language, Gaelic/ Irish.
    Dia = God, pronounced Jee-a
    Thoilleachas = Will, pronounced Willukus,
    SO, Verbally pronounced Jee-a Willukus
    With God’s Will.. Gee Willakers
    Again when people exclaim Jeez! derives from Dia, pronounced Jee-a
    Irish/Gaelic for God, GOD! JEEZ!
    We don’t normally exclaim “Gee whiz” or “Gee whilikers” anymore. We associate such talk with a classic time in New York, when Irish Gaelic was the secret language of the slums, an Irish Gaelic word which means ‘s slom é, or “it’s bleak.” In the slums it was common to hear Irish people say Dia Thoilleachas, Gee Hillukus, which became Gee Whilikers, and means the “will of God.” “Gee” is the approximate pronunciation of Dia, or the Irish word for God. “Holy cow” means Holy Cathú or Holy Cahoo or Holy Grief. “Darn” is another Gaelic exclamation. In Irish you say daithairne ort, which means, “darn on you” or “misfortune on you.” Gee whiz comes from Dia Uas or Geeuh Woous which means “noble god.”

  8. Donna:

    So, when I read the part about it may having been derived from “Jee-roosalem!”, here were my thoughts: firstly, I can TOTALLY imagine people saying that, maybe in a sort of attempt to be a little funny and ridiculous. And the relationship between “jee-roosalem!” And “gee wilikers!” Immediately made me think of something.

    When Andrew Lloyd Webber wrote poems about cats that were later turned into Cats! The Musical, there are two terms used in the poetry that are not english words and they are “Jellical” and “pollical”. Jellical cats and pollical puppies.

    What that had come from was his little niece(?) who had been playing around and maybe he had been telling her a story and she expressed herself, trying to say “poor little puppies” coming out “pollical” puppies, and “dear little cats” to “jellical” cats.

    So I’d love to imagine a father and his daughter and he would often use the words “jee-rooselum!” around her so when she begun to speak, she mispronounced it as “gee wilikers!” And he thought it was lovely so he started to use that instead and it caught on.


  9. Timmy:


  10. Dave CK:

    actually, it’s “Dia dhuit” or “Dia duit,” and it’s pronounced DEE-a gweet (depending on locale in Ireland).

  11. Jack Kapica:

    So, when Donna says that “Andrew Lloyd Webber wrote poems about cats that were later turned into Cats! The Musical,” I wonder what happened to T.S. Eliot. Has he been pushed aside by a generation that can’t remember anything before the stage musical?

    Kind of makes you wonder about the rest of her speculations.

  12. Sam Brock:

    Thank you so very much for your scholarship here. Read it all and it’s very neat. Thank you again for your consideration.
    P.S. That second sentence comes off as very curious, doesn’t it? Asian youth and … Would be curious to know the author’s context. H-m-m …?

  13. Tina:

    Love all the thinking and reminiscing here. And thank you for the T.S. Eliot correction. I am younger and I DO think so much is being lost and forgotten. I had to leave a note on Bernie’s 2nd sentence. Simply a play on words as Time Marches On, where Old Age sees ‘Youth in Asia’ (yes, euthanasia) as the only ‘choice’ left in life as we look back on our own Youthful Days, remembering what we said back along our way (crime-in-AL-ity!) said as almost a musical 5h range for emphasis. I can easily see where a neighborhood/culture swapped out IT-aly for AL-ity. I grew up outside of Portland, OR btw, an entire continent’s length away from NYC. Maybe it’s from Li’l Rascals?

  14. Tina:

    Oh, and of course euthanasia is criminal. I very much enjoy that sentence, actually.

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