Jumpin' jehosifats

Does anyone know the origins, meaning, and correct spelling of this phrase?

I suppose it probably predates Yosemite Sam… but that’s just a guess…

Looks like it’s in the same family as “Jiminy Cricket,” “Judas Priest,” and “Gee Whiz:”

I believe it’s actually spelled either Jehosephat or Jehosaphat.
Wasn’t he a Biblical prophet or something like that? (No Bible at work, so I cannot confirm either spelling or conjecture.)
As to his athletic ability, I have no idea.

One site I found says he was an Old Testament character. But doing a search with an on-line Bible site returns no references to the name. shrug

Jehoshaphat was a king of Judah, 2 Chronicles 17-20.

I found the name spelled Jehoshaphat in the KJV. There’s a total of 76 verses in the OT referencing him, mostly consistantly in 1 Kings 22 and 2 Chronicles.

In the Middle Ages in Europe, there was a legend of a Saint Jehoshaphat. Although no such person ever existed. Turns out that it was really the story of Gautama Buddha, which had somehow filtered its way to Europe.

I thought that was the legend of Barlaam and Josaphat.

Use of this term is also credited with the disappearance of elves.

Thank you all. I’m astounded at the breadth of knowledge, wit, and access to resources.


Just read through 1 Kings 22. Jehoshaphat was a king of Judea. The unnamed king of Israel wanted to take Ramoth in Gilead (in Syria), which he thought belonged to Israel.

He asked Jehoshaphat to join him in battle. The Israeli king kept getting dour predictions from his prophet, Micaiah, about the outcome, though. (Micaiah kept saying that the king would die.)

So the Israeli king got the great idea of disguising himself as a normal soldier and having Jehoshaphat dress as KoI. As the battle started, the Syrian captains were directed to only battle the King of Israel. But when they got close enough, they realized that Jehoshaphat wasn’t their target. Meanwhile, the real King of Israel got hit by a lucky arrow between the joints of his harness and bled to death.

They have a discussion of it here.


Hope you have better luck getting 'em to look at that link than I did, Odieman.

Re: Buddhist origins of of Barlaam and Josaphat. I read this is a corruption of “Bodhisatva” (Sorry, I know I mangled that one). And no, not the Steely Dan song.

From Mjollnir/Odieman *You gotta spell it out for 'em, Mjolli!

To further emphasize, a phrase such as “Jumping Jingoes” can be found in print as far back in US slang as the early 1800’s. We seem to just like to use phrases like this as oaths/expletives. NOthing magic about it.

The biblical spelling is Jehoshaphat. The spelling in most 19th century oaths is never this way, but rather Jehoso- or Jehosa- phat.