One of my daily emails comes from Oxford University Press, publisher of a grammar reference work called Garner’s Modern American Usage. Their tip of the day recently surprised me, discussing the proper spelling (and pronunciation) of a name from the Bible. Here’s the entry —

Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: Jehoshaphat.

“Jehoshaphat,” the name of a king of Judah mentioned in the Old Testament, is often misspelled “Jehosophat” ….

The name is properly pronounced /ji-HAHSH-uh-fat/. The mispronunciation /ji-HOH-suh-fat/, popularized in Yosemite Sam’s habitual interjection (“Jumpin’ Jehoshaphat!”) in the Bugs Bunny cartoons, is based on an erroneous reading of the word (ignoring the “-sh-“), coupled perhaps with the influence of Jehovah (/ji-HOH-vuh/). (Yosemite Sam seems never to hit the books.) But the phrase became so ubiquitous that the interjection would call undue attention to itself if pronounced in any way other than Yosemite’s. Not many people today use the phrase.

The reference never answers the real question: why exclaim that Jehoshapaht was jumping??


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