Britdopers - "Jesus Wept."

I happened to watch “Hellraiser” last night and there’s that legendary moment as the Cenobites attack, and their victim utters the line “Jesus Wept.”

For many, many years, I thought this was simply a line from this movie. Then, in the film “Notes On a Scandal”, a character utters this phrase. And I’ve heard in at least one other movie (which eludes me right now). Not to mention, I have heard a man with a british accent utter this phrase IRL. So, it’s apparently a “british-ism.” It seems to be the equivalent of saying “Ah, shit!”

What does it mean? Is it just another way of saying “Ah, crikey!” ? And just how common a saying is it? Did it originate in “Hellraiser”, or was it already a saying in the popular vernacular when the film was made? Is it considered profane (It sounds vaguely blasphemous)?

Just curious.

I’m not British but you do know that it is the shortest verse in the New Testament.

John, chapter 11, verse 35


Apparently, it is an expetive in England. Its origin is, not surprisingly, the Bible, where it is the shortest verse.

It is the shortest verse in the bible, from the gospel of John, chapter 11, verse 35.

ETA: I never get here first.

And for an American use, there is a statue accross the street from the Oklahoma City National Memorial (site of the 1995 bombing of the federal building there) called “And Jesus Wept”, showing Jesus Christ looking away from the memorial and crying. It’s on the site of a church that was also destroyed as a result of the bomb.

Wasn’t that what the reporter exclaimed in Lawrence of Arabia when he saw the results of the massacre of the Turks? I may be remembering wrong.

Very profane - “Jesus wept!” is a much harsher expression than “oh shit”, “oh bugger”, “oh bollocks” and so on and so forth IMO. Personally I would be cautious to who I said it in front of as it does, to some people, have blasphemous connotations. It’s in fairly common usage, definitely predates “Hellraiser” and is rather satisfying to use.

What? I know which one I would say in front of the children, and it isn’t “oh bollocks”.

“Jesus wept” sounds harmless and quaint to me. I wouldn’t even describe it as an expletive.

I don’t think it’s harsher at all. I’ve heard it all over, and I’d merely call it an exclamation.

I’m also not British, but it sounds like one of those phrases that arose from people trying not to curse – like they were starting to say, “Jesus H. Christ!” and modified it to “Jesus wept!” so as not to cause offense. Pure speculation on my part, of course.

I’ve been aware of it as an expression for 20 - 30 years, at least, I’d say… can’t recall using my self, but friends did.

Yank checking in.

I had a buddy in high school who would use it in the same exasperated sense referenced above.

Its usage always struck me as mighty peculiar.

Yes, I think you’re right.

I use it sometimes, but I change it to ‘Jesus wiped.’ Seems appropriate when someone says ‘Holy shit!’

That’s exactly how I thought of it; but then, I’m not British either.

And to keep this CafeSociety – I just heard it used, in The Bank Job (thumbs up, btw).

It is just a euphemism for “Jesus Christ!”

The OED indicates it shows up in James Joyce’s Ulysses, but I would expect it’s older than that. Probably started when someone started to say “Jesus Christ” and realized it wasn’t the proper time or place. By changing it to “Jesus wept,” it became less offensive.

It also appears in David Lodge’s NICE WORK (a fabulous novel, btw.) I was a bit puzzled, but it seemed in that context to be a polite form of “Jesus Christ!”–you start to exclaim “Jesus–” and, in mid-TTLNIV, change it to a quote from holy scripture.

I don’t think of it as particularly British - my Southern (US) Dad says it sometimes as an “Oh my god I cannot believe how irritatingly stupid this is.” I always took it to not be a sideways curse (he says “dadgummit” for an all-purpose swearword and “GOD ALMIGHTY!” when he hits his thumb with a hammer) but as “Jesus looked at that dumb-shit thing you did and wept!”

Another Brit. I concur. The sort of thing you’d say if you didn’t want to actually swear.

I’m gonna start saying “Jesus H. Wept!”. FWIW I’ve heard it here too (Ireland). Another popular one is “JESUS, MARY, & JOSEPH!!”