BrE interjection for surprise/disbelief [Blimey!]

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EvilWillow

Senior Member
German (Germany)
I've heard the same interjection twice now in different British TV series and I'd like to know the exact spelling and usage. It seems to express great surprise or astonishment paired with disbelief, and it sounds like "buy me" or "bly me." I can't make head nor tail of it.
 
  • Illuminatus

    Senior Member
    India, Hindi, English, Marathi
    It was originally part of the phrase "cor blimey", which was likely a contraction of "god blind me", which was in turn an abbreviated version of "may god blind me if it is not so".

    Evidence for God blinding the users of this phrase is scarce, though. :)
     

    EvilWillow

    Senior Member
    German (Germany)
    Thanks for your quick explanations!
    Does blimey have certain connotations that should discourage non-native speakers from using it in any environment other than with very close friends maybe?
     

    Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    It's not offensive, if that's what you mean. However, it is humorous and somewhat quaint, and in many cases it is used tongue-in-cheek, or what is sometimes called ironically. That is, knowing it is dated and faintly ridiculous, but nevertheless using it in fun. Even for people who use it in fun, it can become a habit and used spontaneously (I do this myself). This goes for quite a few similar expressions, such as "Crikey!".

    It's often associated with Cockney speech, which, I think, must be used with care.
     

    Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    Moderator note:

    I have edited the title of this thread, now that the word "Blimey" has been identified as the topic. This will cause the thread to come up if the word is searched via the Lookup function.
     

    EvilWillow

    Senior Member
    German (Germany)
    It's not offensive, if that's what you mean.
    Well, not just that. I wouldn't want to leave the impression that I'm making fun of some people's dialect or certain social groups. When you're talking with the inevitable foreign accent, native speakers probably won't jump to conclusions. If you're writing, however, a misused word can be fatal.

    It's often associated with Cockney speech, which, I think, must be used with care.
    Thanks for the tip!
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Let's be brutally honest here :)

    If I heard a second-language speaker of English say "Blimey", I'd think it somewhat odd and amusing. I'm sure that's because it has such strong associations with a particular dialect.

    My recommendation would be "Understand it, but don't use it!"
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    I concur with Loob. Evil Willow, imagine a similar expression in German that (as is true of Blimey! in English) is not used by all German speakers, but only by working-class people from a very specific area -- for example, Berliners, or Bavarian farmers, or Hamburg dockworkers.

    Now imagine hearing that expression being used by a non-native German speaker. Wouldn't the effect be odd, and perhaps even ludicrous?
     
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