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June 26, 2018

Does anyone say “Cor!” these days? When I was young it was the exclamation of choice if one was astonished or impressed. In fact there was even a comic called Cor! (it wasn’t very good, though). But I haven’t heard the expression for years. Actually I just asked my kids if they ever used it and they all said no; although, perhaps surprisingly, they did all know it.

It often occurred in conjunction with “Blimey”. I remember being told by grownups that one shouldn’t say “Cor blimey” as it really meant “God blind me” – a blasphemous oath. The transition from God to Cor occurred in the following way, I think: rather than utter the name of God people respectfully altered the middle vowel, so that the word became Gawd (leading, on another route, to the strange expression Gordon Bennett!). Gawd was then shortened to Gor, and then the oath was still further diluted by unvoicing that initial consonant.

For some, even Cor was thought to be a bit dangerous, and it was further softened to give us the exclamation Coo! – popular in lots of children’s novels that I remember from the 1970s (Ern in Enid Blyton’s Five Find-outer stories was always cooing about things).

Cor blimey, that was interesting, wasn’t it?

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  1. Mark Brafield permalink

    Not exactly ‘cor’, but I always had a soft spot for a dear old lady friend of mine who used to say ‘oo-er’ when faced with some difficulty, whilst one of the many reasons I married my wife was because when she was surprised, she used to say ‘golly’.

    • Bernie the Bolt permalink

      Golly, I still do! Got it off my Mum and have been ribbed for it. However, it’s so inoffensive (unlike that all to familiar Anglo-Saxon expression which has now become ‘mainstream’). And not forgetting ‘crikey’, either! (Where did that come from?)

      • Good to hear there are still some Cor-sayers out there. As for ‘Crikey’, I think it’s one of a group of harmless expletives which were substituted for ‘Christ!’. Others include ‘Cripes’, ‘Crumbs’ and ‘Criminy’.

  2. Simon Carter permalink

    Gordon Bennett was a publisher who sponsored Stanley to search for David Livingstone.

  3. Good – thanks for that!

  4. Simon Carter permalink

    Not related but I saw this sign on a bus yesterday: In case of obstruction use break glass window.
    Took me a while to work out what it meant.

  5. ‘Cor’ definitely smacks of the Beano to me. I’d say it lives on in the occasional Sun pun headline e.g. as elegant variation for ‘phwoar’.

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