What does Criminy mean?

Criminy refers to a less known minced oath, possibly referring to the name of Jesus Christ, similar to Jiminy Crickets and Geez Louise.


What's the origin of Criminy?

Although the exact origin for “Criminy” is not known, it first started appearing in the English language in the 1680’s.

It is possibly a deformation of a popular minced oath of the 1660’s; Gemini, or a modification of the name Jesus Christ.

Some claims also state that the term comes from the Italian word crimine, meaning crime, while others support the idea that “Criminy” is the contraction of “Christ’s money” referring to the silver Judas received for betraying the religious figure.

None of these claims have been verified.

Spread & Usage

How did Criminy spread?

“Criminy” rapidly spread in the centuries following the 1600’s, and by 1780 it appeared in numerous written sources – prose and poems alike.

Its popularity sporadically rose and diminished in the 19th and 20th centuries, however, following World War 2, its prominence significantly declined.

Today, “Criminy” is rarely encountered, giving ground to other, more popular minced oaths.

The term was first defined on Urban Dictionary on July 12th, 2003, with several other entries following suit.

External resources

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