who coined the phrase: “what the — ?”

have you ever wondered who coined the phrase: “what the — ?”

I have. I’ve been thinking about this for years. I’ve even googled it. more than once. nothing. what the — ?

trendy slang words and phrases come and go. and as a mom of a tween and a teen I hear a lot of them. epic. yolo. epic fail. photo bomb. and of course, the Minecraft slang lexicon: trolling, griefing, mob, mod, spleef, butter, and the list goes on…

but my favorite phrase is “what the — ?” It reminds me of my youth and the variety of expletives that we used to fill in the blank. the bleep. LOL.

what the — ? It’s so innocent and yet so satisfyingly close to swearing without swearing that I’ve adopted it into my middle-age mom vocab. I don’t think kids today even fill in the blank.  it’s good enough to just say “what the ?” without the —

so, are you ready?

here it is © 1997  —
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. 

thank you J.K. Rowling if indeed you coined the phrase.


please, if you know an older or better source please comment here!  and, yes, I’ll look up the page number.

2 comments on “who coined the phrase: “what the — ?”

  1. Maybe it’s not really a phrase but a simple expression for the lost of words. It would be cool though, if Rowling coined it.


  2. Jonathan Safran Foer’s, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close makes the most wonderful use of this perfect expression.


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