YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Carol Harper sent in this request as a nugget: “I often wonder who is Pete, and why do we do things for his sake?”
The phrases “for Pete’s sake” and “for the love of Pete” are mild oaths.
They started as substitutes for something stronger, “for God’s sake,” “for the love of God,” and so on.
The phrase “for Pete’s sake” first appears in print in 1903, then “for the love of Pete” in 1906, and “in the name of Pete” in 1942.
Why “Pete” rather than “Phil” or “Fred” or “Jim”?
The Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins speculates that whoever coined “for Pete’s sake” may have had St. Peter in mind.
Let’s show you a few other substitute words, and they all substitute for faith and religion:
By golly –> By God
By gosh –> By God
By gum –> By God
For the love of Mike –> For St. Michael’s sake
Good grief –> Good God
Goodness gracious –> Good God
Land sakes –> For the Lord’s sake
My gosh –> My God
Suffering succotash –> Suffering Saviour (Sylvester Cat and Daffy Duck)
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