Great Caesar's Ghost!

Discussion in 'English Only' started by twinklestar, Aug 27, 2008.

  1. twinklestar

    twinklestar Senior Member

    Hi! Could someone please explain what 'Great Ceasar's Ghost' mean? I suppose an exclaimation. Is it slang?

    I learned this from The Simpsons, an American Cartoon. Bart received a gift from his father, say, "Great Caesar's Ghost! A talking Krusty doll"

  2. Curious about Language Senior Member

    Australia, English
    Hi Twinklestar, welcome to the forums!

    "Caesar" refers to Julius Caesar, the famous Roman politician assassinated after he took complete power in the Roman republic. In William Shakespeare's play "Julius Caesar", his ghost appears to Brutus, one of the assassins.

    As for the expression "Great Caesar's Ghost", it is a rather old expression that is a euphemism for "good God", in the days when saying "God" as an oath was considered very rude. It is rarely used these days, and was probably used by the writers from The Simpsons for comic effect.
  3. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    Curious a. L. is correct about the probable origin of the exclamation. It was made famous in the Superman comic books and television series, in which editor Perry White used it often.
  4. twinklestar

    twinklestar Senior Member

    Curious about Language & Cuchuflete:

    Thank you very much for your help. I've understood. :)

    Have a good one!
  5. uqula Member


    Could anybody please divulge to me the meaning of the following explanation:

    Great Ceasar's Ghost! (in the original version of the text, the word 'ceasar' is spelled with 'ea' but I think there's a spelling mistake and it should be 'ae' instead. Correct me if I am wrong).

    This is the context. Al Bundy is enjoying his Sunday and seems to be very content until the moment he finds out that Peg's family is coming. Than he shouts out:

    - Oh God, you're family's coming!!! How much time do I have?... [knocking on the door] Great Ceasar's Ghost, they're there! Have you made the preparations?

    Thanks a lot in advance!
  6. bibliolept

    bibliolept Senior Member

    Northern California
    AE, Español
    It's just an interjection, an expression of surprise or consternation; it is not widely used. In this context, it's meant to convey an overly dramatic, reaction of distress or concern to a presumably serious and even troubling situation. If memory serves, one of the characters from the Superman comic books is the most famous user of this phrase.

    (Fine, I'll admit that I know exactly who is famous for uttering the phrase: It is Perry White, editor of the Daily Planet.)
  7. uqula Member

    Thanks for the information above. Just out of curiosity, Perry White is famous for uttering this phrase, but it is not his invention, it existed in popular culture before Superman ? ;)
  8. kitenok Senior Member

    Hi uqula,
    I always just assumed it went back to the appearance of Caesar's ghost to Brutus in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, but I have absolutely no evidence to back up that assumption. :eek:
  9. Matching Mole

    Matching Mole Senior Member

    England, English
    Moderator note:

    This thread is a merger of two threads on the same topic.
  10. bibliolept

    bibliolept Senior Member

    Northern California
    AE, Español
  11. TerryMcC New Member

    I can’t add anything about how old this phrase is, but it certainly has been around longer than Perry White, in fact it was the title of a newspaper strip that was published from 1913 to 1914 called “Great Caesar's Ghost & Great Caesar’s Goat,” by A.E. Hayward.

    And I would post a link so you can take a look at this old strip but I am told I have to make at least 30 posts before I can do that, so you’ll just have to hunt it down yourself.

    Good luck!
  12. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
  13. Len Knighton New Member

    English - United States
    hi there. I I know it is 9 years since this question was asked. I just came across the phrase in Mark Twains LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI.
  14. london calling Senior Member

    Agreed. Plutarch describes the encounter between Caesar's ghost and Brutus and Shakespeare based the ecounter between them in his 'Julius Caesar' on Plutarch's writings, but as to who first coined the expression.....
  15. kentix Senior Member

    English - U.S.
    When they made a new TV version of Superman (in the '90s) called "Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman" they updated Perry White's line to "Great Shades of Elvis" because he was a big Elvis fan in that version. (Here "shade" means "ghost". I don't know why it's plural.)
  16. dojibear Senior Member

    Fresno CA
    English - America
    Perhaps the "Great Shades of Elvis" were the sunglasses Elvis wore (as most celebrities did).

    Or more likely, "Great Shade of Elvis" sounds awkward, and "Shades" made it sound better.
  17. kentix Senior Member

    English - U.S.
    That was my guess, too.:rolleyes:

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