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Jesus H. Christ
There has been a storm of controversy over my recent blog, “The Nine Billion Names of God.” And by that, I mean a couple of people wrote in. Their issue, of course, was the “H”. What exactly does it stand for?

The fine folks down at the Internet have plenty to say on this question. For your convenience, I have discarded most of the suggested answers and now report that the likeliest answer has something to do with a case of mistaken identity of Greek letters in the minds of people who use only Roman letters. I won’t go into a deeper explanation of the confusion because it is way too boring, but the root of the problem is that the Greek eta (which looks like an “h”) began as a voiceless glottal fricative but later had an identity crisis and became a long “e” sound (as in Jeezus).

As I said, boring. I would have preferred Horatio as the actual meaning because I like saying Jesus Horatio Christ; it’s got a nice rhythm to it. Hell might have given the name a better-founded status as an oath of frustration. Highpockets, moreover, would have made historical sense as a nickname for the famously lanky savior.

Truth is, the origins of the “H” are uncertain. The earliest citation to it has been noted in Mark Twain’s autobiography in a tale from his youth from the year 1850. The reason the epithet has remained in use for so long, however, is quite clear. It’s a poetic device. That H supplies an opportunity for the cusser to take the expression of his frustration up a notch. Jesus H. Christ packs a bigger punch than plain old Jesus Christ. Furthermore, no letter other than “H” would serve so well. Jesus P., Jesus M., Jesus R.? They simply don’t have the oomph that only a full-throated glottal fricative can provide.

In fact, such a perfect curse might well persist even longer than a couple of hundred years. It has been suggested that the very first usage may have occurred more than two millennia ago. It is easy to imagine an exasperated mother, somewhere in Asia Minor, seeing that the door had been left open by her teenage son and exclaiming,

“Jesus H. Christ! Were you born in a barn?!”
Trump supporters are people who know what they believe.
~ JC, Bonny Doon