Q: “Where does ‘For Pete’s Sake!’ come from?”

May 20th, 2012 by cathay
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Question:  “I hear people say ‘For Pete’s Sake’ a lot. Do you know where I can find the real story where it comes from?”

Man "realizing something"According to Douglas Harper (historian, author, journalist and lecturer based in Lancaster, Pa) on his site, “The Online Etymology Dictionary” found at:

http://www.etymonline.com

…the modern use of this phrase can be found documented from 1924.  See the specific page on “Peter” at:

http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=peter

An earlier use can be dated to the Middle Ages but it is believed that it was more an exclamation of the Apostle Peter’s name (“Peter!”) rather than “For Pete’s sake!”

The site, Reference.com, offers information about the evolution of this phrase, moving from “for the love of Mike” to “for pity’s sake” and then changing to “For Pete’s sake.”

http://www.reference.com/motif/reference/for-pete%27s-sake-origin

The underlying theme:  to have a way to shout out without offending or using profanity, such as when a person stubs her toe.  However, if my friend Peter was nearby when this occurred, it could really cause some confusion!

If you ever need any help with finding information, please feel free to ask a Delaware librarian, anytime!

Just go to: http://lib.de.us/askalibrarian

We’re glad to be of assistance and we’re 247!

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