Whenever you hear an old saying, like “letting the cat out of the bag”, does it ever make you think “for Pete’s sake, what does it mean”? But then you think, “why did I just say that? What does ‘for Pete’s sake’ even mean?” Who’s this Pete character, and why should I care about his sake?

“For Pete’s sake” is an idiom where the name Pete is essentially used as a mild substitute for God or Christ in an expression of annoyance or frustration. Much like the less common “for the love of Mike”, the switch to Pete makes the term more socially acceptable & less offensive. There’s actually even a name for this type of phrase, “minced oath”, which is a British euphemism used to avoid swearing when expressing surprise or annoyance.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, people started saying “for Pete’s sake” as early as 1903. But there’s no definitive reason why folks began using Pete instead or some other name, like Frank, Earl, or any other name. One theory, though, is that, at some point, someone simply replaced Jesus or God with another religious figure…St. Peter. (ANDY NOTE: Seems plausible.)

Now that you know a bit more about why we say, “for Pete’s sake,” you’ll be ready to celebrate on February 26th, which is “For Pete’s Sake Day”. Yes, it IS a real thing! I wouldn’t make something like that up, for Pete’s sake!

Got a Mundane Mystery you’d like solved? Send me a message via social media (@AndyWebbRadioVoice), or shoot me an email at [email protected].

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