Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Odd expression: "funny as Hell"

So evidently the recipe here is:
  1. Take the one subject about which there is absolutely nothing funny, whatsoever
  2. Use it in a phrase meaning "hilariously funny"
  3. Repeat until people don't take Hell seriously or feel appropriate fear
It's one of those phrases in which "Hell" is used as an intensifier. One article does labor mightily to make sense of it — and fails mightily.

"Hell" is quite the busy modifier.

But the one thing it isn't?

You guessed it.



Peren said...

I've also heard "good as hell." I asked the speaker if by that he meant that the thing he was describing was bad. He was a little confused at my question.

Strong Tower said...

Well that just hellarious!

DJP said...

Another good point, Peren.

And let's not even get into baffling uses of "holy" as a modifier.

JackW said...

What in heaven are you talking about?

Oh ...

donsands said...

Elton John sings "..and it's cold as "hell", in Rocket Man.
Never did understand that one.

Staci at Writing and Living said...

That's one good thing about the speech patterns in my neck of the woods. We can be colorful without being vulgar.

Things are "cold as the grave," and "hotter than Billy Thunder." Although I've always wondered who Billy Thunder was and why he was so hot. Google didn't help me on that one.

There's also "slow as molasses in January," and "longer than a month of Sundays."

LeeC said...

Or for that matter "Wicked" and it seems now that the culture is trying to reform the word "Sin" into a mainstream cool word.

Ricky Rickard said...

Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil,
who put darkness for light
and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight! Isaiah 5:20-21

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2

It is very easy to get caught up in the language of the culture that we live in. We may not even notice or take offense when someone take's the Lord's name in vain, or uses expressions like "funny as hell" because we are so used to everyone and everything around us speaking like that. It is up to us to not be desensitized to all that is around us and thus become conformed, but rather to be transformed by the Word and the Spirit, so that we can be as lights in a dark place. It is when we live in a culture that is vile that we do things different, speak different, act different, that we can truly have an impact and see not just ourselves transformed, but the culture around us transformed as well.

~Mark said...

Effective post! I found (oddly enough) that even before i was saved I couldn't freely tell people to "go to Hell" because being raised culturally Christian, I at least had some idea what that meant. The phrase would stick in my throat almost every time.

Stefan said...

As a believer, I sometimes catch myself doing an opposite thing. In cases where I might once have said "thank God" (and not really meant it), I avoid profaning the Lord's name and over-correct by saying "thank goodness"—when in fact it is God whom I should be thanking—and publicly (in most cases: not if I'm saying thanks for, say, a new episode of xyz television show...).

Libbie said...

oo, yes, we have 'longer than a month of Sundays' over here, too.

Dd1 is most insistent about not using the word 'wicked' to mean something good. She refuses to watch and otherwise innocuous children's programme, because one character incessantly uses it. She was quite shocked when she first heard it. Which is a shame because I did quite like Bob the Builder.

Michelle said...

And we've all heard the phrase "I had a hell of a good time". Same oxymoronous idea - "moron" from the Gr. "moros" meaning "dull" (couldn't resist, he he).

I find it curious that biblical terms lifted out of context serve as such suitable, satisfying intensifiers for the unregenerate. Using "Hare Krishna" as an expletive, or "Oh my Buddha" just doesn't have the same curse-value/impact.

CR said...

We've all heard of situations where people know that we are Christians and they are not and the use language like, "God Damn It" and they say, oops, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to offend you, I mean, "God Dang it."

It's like, okay, the problem word is not damn vs. dang, okay?

I've also read some posts where in the secular arena from people who are not Christians and they purposely use a small g with God or I've seen this where they will write, "G-d." I'm sorry, I personally don't get that one.

Stefan said...

CR: That first one is funny.

I recall Dan has a whole pet peeve about the use of "-" for "o" in the name of God.


So up here north of the 49th parallel, we have another Conservative government, economic upsets notwithstanding. Still not a plurality of members of parliament, but a much stronger caucus than they had the last time round.

I can hardly recall the last time Canada was bucking the trend and leaning right when the States were leaning left. It's upside-down world, I tell ya.

CR said...

I praise God for your country, Stefan. My understanding is there are a lot of friction in some instances when pastors preach from the pulpit on certain subjects, they can get in trouble. Hopefully, some of that will be undone in your country.