Q From Wayne R Zeides, USA: i was wonder if you can shed any type of light ~ above for Pete’s sake. A an extremely interesting explanation was given on a TV show, i beg your pardon attributed it to Michelangelo requesting funds for St Peter’s.

You are watching: For the love of mike origin

A Alas, that’s a classic example of people etymology. Not only has the speaker developed a story to explain a puzzling expression yet he hasn’t any kind of feeling because that history, or indeed geography. Over there is, for example, the annoying tiny fact the Michelangelo speak a dialect of Italian and also that we need to account not just for the phrase obtaining from Italy to (presumably) England, yet for that is swapping languages at the very least once along the way. There’s also the problem that the expression isn’t recorded prior to the 1920s, therefore where has actually it been in all the century in between? around the just thing he acquired right was that Michelangelo did occupational on St Peter’s.

Pardon mine irritation! It’s basic to show such stories space nonsense, albeit generally well-meaning attempts to describe the inexplicable, however it’s often hard to placed anything judicious in your place. After all, these tall tales really often flourish up due to the fact that conventional scholarship has actually failed to discover out the facts.

In this case, we’re not totally without ideas. One clue is that one more version the the exclamation is for the love of Pete, which appears to be slightly older (it’s recorded in print from 1918). Consequently that reminds us of for the love the Mike, i beg your pardon is older still, native the 1880s. This critical expression appears to have been a euphemistic cry to change for the love that God, i m sorry is recognized from the early eighteenth century as an irritated exclamation. One more well-known exclamation, for pity’s sake, seems most likely to have been an influence on the an option of Pete. As a result, in ~ some point around 1918, Pete joined Mike as the person to invoke as soon as you to be impatient, annoyed, frustrated or disappointed in someone or something, both males being stand-ins because that the God the it would certainly be blasphemous come mention.


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The English language is forever changing. New words appear; old ones loss out of use or change their meanings. World broad Words make the efforts to document at least a part of this shifting wordscape by featuring brand-new words, word histories, native in the news, and the curiosities of aboriginal English speech.