Sacrebleu or sacre bleu is a French profanity meant as a cry of surprise or happiness. It is a minced oath form of the profane sacré dieu translating to "holy God". The holy God exclamation being profane is related to the second commandment: "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain."
Most French dictionaries state "sacrebleu" to be equivalent to "sacredieu".
The phrase originated from the words "sacré dieu". At varying points in history this was considered to be taking God's name in vain, which is forbidden in the Ten Commandments. It was then changed to 'bleu' (blue) which rhymes with Dieu.
Other sources propose it coming from old blasphemous curses relating to God, used from the late Middle-Age (some are attested as early as the 11th century) to the 14th (at the latest), with many variants: morbleu or mordieu, corbleu, palsambleu, jarnidieu, tudieu, respectively standing for mort [de] Dieu (God's death), corps [de] Dieu (God's body), par le sang [de] Dieu (by God's blood, the two latter possibly referring to the Eucharistic bread and wine), je renie Dieu (I deny God), tue Dieu (kill God)... Those curses may be compared to the archaic English [God']sdeath, sblood, struth or zounds (God's wounds). They were considered so offensive that Dieu was sublimated into the similar-sounding neutral syllable bleu. The verb sacrer has several meanings, including to crown, to anoint, to name someone [champion, best actor, etc.], and in the past, rarely in France but more common in French Canada, of swear, curse. Therefore, sacrebleu could be in modern French Je jure par Dieu and in English I curse by God, or the more used I swear to God.
The most ancient origin is that found in the Book of Exodus, where blue is found many times in the description of the sanctuary and priestly garments, such as in Exodus 39:1 "Of the blue, purple, and scarlet thread they made garments of ministry, for ministering in the holy place, and made the holy garments for Aaron, as the Lord had commanded Moses."
- Surugue, Lea (2 September 2014). "'Sacre bleu!' Do the French really say that?". TheLocal.fr. Retrieved 1 August 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- SACREBLEU : Etymologie de SACREBLEU
- Étymol. et Hist. 1. 1552 Sacre Dieu (Rabelais, Quart Livre, chap. 47, éd. R. Marichal, p. 268), attest. isolée; à nouv. au xixes. 1828-29 sacredieu (Vidocq, Mém., t. 3, p. 160); 2. 1642 par la sacre-bleu! (G. Brunet, Le Nouv. siècle de Louis XIV, 8 ds Quem. DDL t. 19); 1745 sacrebleu (Godard d'Aucour, L'Académie militaire, I, 49, ibid.). I comp. de sacre3* et Dieu; 2 altér. p. euphém. de sacredieu; cf. 1757 par la sacredié! (J.-J. Vadé, Œuvres posth., p. 254) et 1750 sacrelote! (Id., Le Paquet de mouchoirs, p. 44).
- Tassie, J. S (1961).” The Use of Sacrilege in the Speech of French Canada”, American Speech, 36.1