For God's Sake: Definition, Meaning and Origin

Last Updated on
May 25, 2023

The idiomatic phrase "for God's sake" is an exclamation typically used to express impatience, annoyance, urgency, desperation, or pleading. It is a tool of emotional emphasis in conversation, and its tone can range from frustration to pleading.

In short:

"For God's sake" is an idiomatic expression used to highlight urgency, frustration, or pleading.

What Does "For God's Sake" Mean?

The idiom "for God's sake" is an expression used to emphasize a statement or request, often to convey frustration, exasperation, or urgency. People use it when they want others to understand the importance of what they are saying or asking.

Here's a closer look:

  • Impatience or Annoyance: The phrase often signifies frustration or annoyance. For example, if someone repeatedly makes the same mistakes, one might say, "For God's sake, can you please stop doing that!"
  • Urgency or Desperation: In times of crisis or urgency, using this phrase can express desperation. For instance, "For God's sake, someone calls an ambulance!"
  • Pleading: When used in a plea or request, it signifies the importance or earnestness of the request. For example, "For God's sake, listen to me."

It's worth noting that variations of this phrase are common and can include substituting "God" with other figures or concepts, such as "For heaven's sake" or "For Pete's sake."

Where Does "For God's Sake" Come From?

The phrase "for God's sake" has religious roots and dates back centuries. Originally, the phrase "for God's sake" was used in a strictly religious context, appearing in numerous pieces of biblical literature. The Bible uses the phrase multiple times in its text, especially in the Old Testament, to signify a plea or appeal to God. It implied performing an action or asking for something directly for the sake of God's will or favor.

Historical Usage

"For Goddes sake, come up at ones."

– Geoffrey Chaucer, "The Canterbury Tales" (Late 14th Century)

"For God's sake, I beg, your name do not dishonor."

–Psalms 79:9

10 Examples of "For God's Sake" in Sentences

Here are some examples showcasing different uses and variations of "for God's sake":

  • For God's sake, please stop that noise.
  • Pro Tip: For God's sake, don't forget to bring an umbrella when you visit Seattle!
  • For the love of God, I hope he gets here soon.
  • I can spill the tea on what happened at the party last night, but for God's sake, keep it a secret!
  • For Pete's sake, don't tell me I lost my keys again.
  • I can't believe you left me alone in that situation! I thought you were my friend and would have my back, for God's sake!
  • For heaven's sake, why did you scare me like that?
  • Hey, how is your day going? Could you please clean up your room, for God's sake?
  • He asked her, for the sake of all that's holy, to reconsider her decision.
  • For God's sake, be careful with that chainsaw.

Examples of "For God's Sake" in Pop Culture

The phrase "for God's sake" is frequently used in pop culture. Here are some instances:

  • In the TV series "Breaking Bad," the character Walter White uses the phrase to emphasize his desperation: "For God's sake, please stop."
  • The Beatle's song "For No One" features the line: "And in her eyes, you see nothing, no sign of love behind the tears, cried for no one, a love that should have lasted years."
  • The film "Pulp Fiction" has the character Vincent Vega saying, "Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go home and have a heart attack."
  • In "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," Sirius Black exclaims, "For God's sake, Harry, the Ministry isn't as bad as all that."
  • The British TV show "The IT Crowd" has a character exclaim, "For God's sake, Jen, we're not eight years old."
  • In the song "Don't Look Back in Anger" by Oasis, the line "Take me to the place where you go, where nobody knows if it's night or day" features a similar sentiment.
  • "For God's sake, let us sit upon the ground / And tell sad stories of the death of kings" is a famous quote from Shakespeare's "Richard II."
  • Billie Eilish's song "When The Party's Over" contains the line, "And I'll call you when the party's over, you're no fun."

Other Ways to Say "For God's Sake" in Sentences

Here are some other phrases that carry similar connotations to "for God's sake":

  • For heaven's sake, be quiet.
  • Can you, for Pete's sake, turn off the TV?
  • For the love of God, please arrive on time.
  • Why did you do that, in the name of all that is holy?
  • For the sake of mercy, stop that.
  • For crying out loud, don't tell me you forgot again.
  • Please, for pity's sake, let's not argue.
  • In God's name, why are you being so careless?
  • For goodness' sake, listen to me.
  • She asked him, for the love of all that's holy, to reconsider.

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "For God's Sake"

  • Is "For God's sake " offensive?

It depends on the context and the people involved. Some may find the phrase disrespectful, while others see it as a common figure of speech.

  • Does "For God's sake" have religious connotations?

Historically, yes. The phrase originates from religious texts. However, in modern usage, it's largely secular and used to express frustration or urgency.

  • Is "For God's sake" formal or informal?

It's typically seen as informal and is more commonly used in spoken language than in formal writing.

  • Can "For God's sake" be used in a non-religious context?

Yes, it's often used in secular contexts simply to express strong emotions.

  • What is the origin of the phrase "For Pete's sake"?

It's believed to be a softer, more socially acceptable version of "for God's sake," likely emerging in the late 19th or early 20th century.

  • Can I use "for God's sake" in a formal presentation?

It's generally best to avoid idioms, including "for God's sake," in formal presentations, as they can come off as unprofessional or potentially offensive.

  • Is "for God's sake" considered a swear phrase?

In some contexts, it might be seen as mildly profane. However, it's generally not considered as strong or offensive as many other swear words.

  • What are some alternatives to "for God's sake"?

Alternatives include "for heaven's sake," "for Pete's sake," "for goodness' sake," and "for crying out loud."

  • Is "for God's sake" used in other languages?

Many languages have similar idiomatic expressions, though the literal translations and connotations can vary.

  • Is it common to use "for God's sake" in literature?

Yes, this phrase is quite common in both classic and contemporary literature to show a character's frustration or urgency.


Final Thoughts about "For God's Sake"

The idiom "for God's sake" is a staple of the English language, its roots reaching back centuries. It conveys strong emotions, from frustration to desperation, and adds color and intensity to our spoken and written language. Its relevance persists today in our everyday conversations and in pop culture.

  • The phrase "for God's sake" is used to express frustration, impatience, urgency, or pleading.
  • It originates from religious texts yet is largely secular in modern usage.
  • Common variations include "for heaven's sake," "for Pete's sake," and "for goodness' sake."
  • While it's seen as informal, it's used widely in spoken language, literature, and media.

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