'Zbodikins, 'Zounds etc.

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A euphemism occasionally found in Elizabethan texts, i.e. books written in the late 16th century. Such words much parodied since that time. In words like 'zounds, the apostrophe marks an omission - here, of the name of the deity. 'Zounds stands for the oath '[By God]'s wounds' - swearing by the five wounds of the crucified Christ. (See also stigmata.)

The apostrophe is often omitted, and such words may be spelled with an 's-, or even a 'ds- in place of the commoner 'z-.

'Zbodikins similarly stands for '[By God]'s little body', 'slife for '[by God's] life' and so on. Many of these, like 'steeth, are incongruous, and even, like 'sdeath, blasphemous.

The full phrases were regarded, in religious times, as too shocking to write in full, and so they were abbreviated. Don't use them (unless you want to write bad historical novels). They are only included here for those who come across them in reading, and want to understand them.

Note that the pronunciation of 'zounds, although etymologically with the vowel ('oo', IPA: /uː/) of 'wounds' (the pronunciation preferred by AWE and theatrical pedants), is more commonly with the vowel of 'round' ('ow', /aʊ/). This ambivalence can be see even in the sixteenth century, when the word was written sometimes as 'zoones' and sometimes as 'zowndes' (with variations of both).