uestion: Why do people say “for Pete’s sake?” (Asked by Sandy Wilson, Greenwood, S.C.)

Reply: My wife, Sandy, and I were talking one morning and I used the phrase “for Pete’s sake.” She asked why I said that and wanted to know who Pete was. I didn’t know myself, and Shazam! I had another question for the Curiosity Corner!

In case you forgot, Shazam was the word, and the Wizard’s name, that news reporter Bill Batson would say to be transformed into superhero Captain Marvel in the comic books. Gomer Pyle frequently used the exclamation, too, but was not transformed. But I digress!

The phrase, “for Pete’s sake,” is a euphemism for the phrase, “for God’s sake,” or “for Christ’s sake.” It comes from a time when these phrases were considered blasphemous. Remember, a euphemism is a mild, indirect or vague expression substituted for one thought to be offensive, harsh or blunt. So, instead of saying “for God’s / Christ’s sake,” the Apostle Peter is substituted (Pete for short) and we have “for Pete’s sake.”

Question: Why do some people refer to their country as “motherland,” and others as “fatherland”?

Reply: This parental naming tendency reflects people respectfully viewing the countries where they’re born and live as nurturing parents. Russians commonly refer to Russia as “motherland,” and Germans refer to Germany as “fatherland.”

This parental connection is quite common. Other examples include Mother Earth, Mother Nature and Father Time.

The United States, however, isn’t so parental. We commonly refer to our country as the “homeland.”

C.P.S. (Curious Postscript): “Curiosity is one of the permanent and certain characteristics of a vigorous mind.” — Samuel Jackson

Curious about something? Send your questions to Dr. Jerry D. Wilson, College of Science and Mathematics, Lander University, Greenwood, SC 29649, or e-mail jerry@curiosity-corner.net. Selected questions will appear in the Curiosity Corner. For Curiosity Corner background, go to curiosity-corner.net.