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  #1  
Old 04-29-2004, 09:41 AM
mwber68 mwber68 is offline
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Origin of the phrase "Holy Moley"

Over the past year or two I have caught myself using the phrase 'holy moley' quite often, but I never really understood what it meant besides being surprised. I was just wondering if anyone out there knew what the origin or meaning of the phrase was. Thanks
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  #2  
Old 04-29-2004, 09:45 AM
CalMeacham CalMeacham is offline
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This has come up before. I have, in the past, maintained that it originated as the mild oath used by Billy Batston in the Captain Marvel comic book. Others say that it wasd only popularized by that. I seem to recall reading that Capt. Marvel was the origin -- I certainly don't know of any instances earlier. But it certainly did aid in popularizing it.



And it arguably ain't that mild. As Steranko says in his History of Comics, look up Moley or moly sometime.
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Old 04-29-2004, 09:46 AM
bordelond bordelond is offline
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It's no more than a euphamism for "Holy Moses", I'm betting. It's in in line with "golly" for "God", or "jeezum" for "Jesus".
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Old 04-29-2004, 11:01 AM
The_Llama The_Llama is offline
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Well golly jeezum moley that's a good question!
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Old 04-29-2004, 10:06 PM
samclem samclem is offline
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I can predate the Capt. Marvel/Billy Batson with cites from 1929/1946. The earliest Marvel citing is 1949. Capt. Marvel started in 1940, but I'd love it if someone could find a cite there before 1949. It might exist.
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Old 08-24-2011, 04:24 PM
stormlight57 stormlight57 is offline
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Could it be for the holy herb moly that odysseus used to nullify circe's magic?
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Old 08-24-2011, 04:31 PM
CalMeacham CalMeacham is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stormlight57 View Post
Could it be for the holy herb moly that odysseus used to nullify circe's magic?
That's what Sternako was pointing out in my post above (and long ago). If so, though, they misspelled "moly" as "moley".
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Old 08-24-2011, 04:40 PM
Crazyhorse Crazyhorse is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CalMeacham View Post
That's what Sternako was pointing out in my post above (and long ago). If so, though, they misspelled "moly" as "moley".
Here is a 1929 cite in a poem by Hervey Allen that uses the spelling "moly".

Quote:
Deer that crop the holy moly;
Or the stag that never dies
With the moon upon his eyes
From the thicket where he lies
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Old 08-24-2011, 04:42 PM
CalMeacham CalMeacham is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by samclem View Post
I can predate the Capt. Marvel/Billy Batson with cites from 1929/1946. The earliest Marvel citing is 1949. Capt. Marvel started in 1940, but I'd love it if someone could find a cite there before 1949. It might exist.
You say you could, but you didn't.


When I use Google Books N-gram viewer, It gives no instances prior to 1940 on its chart

http://ngrams.googlelabs.com/graph?c...=0&smoothing=3

But when you look more closely you find that it appears in the 1892 book Running it Off by Nathaniel Gould.

http://books.google.com/books?id=oDg...ley%22&f=false


It doesn't list any subsequemnt appearances.


And, despite samclem's claims, "Holy Moly" apparently appeared with the first appearance of Captain Marvel in 1940:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holy_Moly
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  #10  
Old 08-24-2011, 04:47 PM
Crazyhorse Crazyhorse is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CalMeacham View Post
When I use Google Books N-gram viewer, It gives no instances prior to 1940 on its chart
You're searching for "Holy Moley" - it is case sensitive.

You'll get different results for "holy Moley", "Holy moley", and "holy moley", etc.
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  #11  
Old 08-24-2011, 06:08 PM
Northern Piper Northern Piper is online now
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The Piper Cub asked just this question the other day. Mrs Piper said "Holy Moley!" and the Cub said "What's a Moley?" She looked at me and I just shrugged my shoulders.
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  #12  
Old 08-24-2011, 08:32 PM
CalMeacham CalMeacham is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crazyhorse View Post
You're searching for "Holy Moley" - it is case sensitive.

You'll get different results for "holy Moley", "Holy moley", and "holy moley", etc.



Thanks, but if you got any differemnt results, you didn;t state them, either.

I just tried it and didn't --- that one early data point, then nothing until Captain Marvel. And that was his catch-phrase, used throughout. Samclem's claim that it didn't show up until 1949 is simply bizarre.
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  #13  
Old 08-24-2011, 09:41 PM
samclem samclem is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by samclem View Post
I can predate the Capt. Marvel/Billy Batson with cites from 1929/1946. The earliest Marvel citing is 1949. Capt. Marvel started in 1940, but I'd love it if someone could find a cite there before 1949. It might exist.
Quote:
Originally Posted by CalMeacham View Post
You say you could, but you didn't.
Well, I was posting in 2004. State of the art then isn't today. I found a 1929 cite. I don't think it had anything to do with the phrase as it's come to be known. When I was posting that, the state of the art though that it only appeared in Capt. Marvel in 1949.



Quote:
Originally Posted by CalMeacham
But when you look more closely you find that it appears in the 1892 book Running it Off by Nathaniel Gould.

http://books.google.com/books?id=oDg...ley%22&f=false
. Nice find. I didn't have Google Books available back then.

That one looks like the phrase was independently available at that time. I found some more incidences from the 1930s, involving Roosevelt brain trust member Prof. Raymond Moley of Cleveland. The clearly are using "Holy Moley" as a euphemism for "Holy Moses." I have no doubt that's what it's always been.
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  #14  
Old 08-24-2011, 09:58 PM
Skald the Rhymer Skald the Rhymer is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stormlight57 View Post
Could it be for the holy herb moly that odysseus used to nullify circe's magic?
That was once the explanation for Captain Marvel's use of the phrase.
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