gad·​zook·​ery gad-ˈzü-kə-rē How to pronounce gadzookery (audio) -ˈzu̇- How to pronounce gadzookery (audio)
: the use of archaisms (as in a historical novel)

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"Gadzooks . . . you astonish me!" cries Mr. Lenville in Charles Dickens' Nicholas Nickleby. We won't accuse Dickens of gadzookery ("the bane of historical fiction," as historical novelist John Vernon once called it), because we assume people actually said gadzooks back in the 1830s. That mild oath is an old-fashioned euphemism, so it is thought, for "God's hooks" (a reference, supposedly, to the nails of the Crucifixion). Today's historical novelists must toe a fine line, avoiding anachronistic expressions while at the same time rejecting modern expressions such as okay and nice (the latter, in Shakespeare's day, suggesting one who was wanton or dissolute rather than pleasant, kind, or respectable).

Word History


gadzook(s) (taken to be an archaism) + -ery

First Known Use

1945, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of gadzookery was in 1945


Dictionary Entries Near gadzookery

Cite this Entry

“Gadzookery.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Apr. 2024.

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