Do you or should you use such phrases and words despite being Atheist? I'm not sure, but I am very guilty of using them anyways, mainly cause of the culture I grew up with in the US. A smidgen of me enjoys knowing that it is meaningless to me but pokes at the offending religion that is Christianity. I really should be a better person and just drop them from my vocabulary completely, yet I have the thought that it would just look like I am justifying or giving power to that religion over me. Your thoughts?

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Actually, I kind of enjoy dropping the odd, "Oh, my stars and planets!" It keeps people's attention and no one can possibly accuse me of profanity.

Why, bless my buttons! They may kiss my big fat Hebrew haunches if they do!

Tangential to this discussion is a usage—common in the South in my experience, but nowhere else—to denigrate another person's foolish opinion or belief without reflecting on the person. For example you might hear something like the following:

She believes—God bless her—that her husband is coming back to her.

He thinks—God bless him—that his business is succeeding.

 

Is anyone else familiar with this usage? I found it charming and amusing. (God bless me.)

 

 

I've only heard it in the movies and also find it amusing.  Same with "bless her heart", as B Brion mentioned.

I've heard both in Alabama along with a few other expressions new to me such as grandbabies and the war of northern aggression.

"Grandbabies" is becoming standard U.S. slang through the vehicle of Black English, the chief enricher, IMO, of everyday English as she is spoke.

The "War of Northern Aggression"? OH! The "War of Southern Rebellion!" LOL! ;-)

Six o' one, a half-dozen of t' other'n.

I've heard of something similar from the South, that you can say the nastiest things about someone as long as you say "bless his/her heart". Like, 'That guy is a f**king douchebag, bless his heart.'

Me and my husband use that one often, though jokingly.

Being a fuckin' douchebag is no joke. Oy!

Bless his heart or just sayin' evidently excuses what ever was said. People look at me funny when I say "bless his little cotton pickin' heart!" I don't think it's used a lot in "southern" Washington state!

I remember it from Tennessee Ernie Ford as "Bless your little pea-pickin' heart!"


A similar expression was coined in the 18th Century CE by Mr. Eli Whitney. He asked that you "keep your cotton-pickin' hands off my gin!"

I remember hearing "bless your little pea-pickin' heart" as well. :)

"... another day older and deeper in debt ..."

Yes, I've read that a lot of times in books (fiction, but set in the South) an insult, followed or preceded by "bless his heart." LOL

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