Damnation is the concept of everlasting divine punishment and/or disgrace, especially the punishment for sin
In religion, sin is the violation or deviation of an eternal divine law or standard. The term sin may also refer to the state of having committed such a violation. Christians believe the moral code of conduct is decreed by God In religion, sin (also called peccancy) is the violation or deviation...

 as threatened by God
God in Christianity
In Christianity, God is the eternal being that created and preserves the universe. God is believed by most Christians to be immanent , while others believe the plan of redemption show he will be immanent later...

 (e.g. ). A damned being "in damnation" is said to be either in Hell
In many religious traditions, a hell is a place of suffering and punishment in the afterlife. Religions with a linear divine history often depict hells as endless. Religions with a cyclic history often depict a hell as an intermediary period between incarnations...

, or living in a state wherein they are divorced from Heaven
Heaven, the Heavens or Seven Heavens, is a common religious cosmological or metaphysical term for the physical or transcendent place from which heavenly beings originate, are enthroned or inhabit...

 and/or in a state of disgrace from God's favor. Those Christians in purgatory
Purgatory is the condition or process of purification or temporary punishment in which, it is believed, the souls of those who die in a state of grace are made ready for Heaven...

, the "Church Suffering", are not considered damned, because their stay there is not eternal, while people who are damned to Hell will.

Following the religious meaning, the words damn and goddamn are a common form of religious profanity
Profanity is a show of disrespect, or a desecration or debasement of someone or something. Profanity can take the form of words, expressions, gestures, or other social behaviors that are socially constructed or interpreted as insulting, rude, vulgar, obscene, desecrating, or other forms.The...

, in modern times often semantically weakened
Semantic change
Semantic change, also known as semantic shift or semantic progression describes the evolution of word usage — usually to the point that the modern meaning is radically different from the original usage. In diachronic linguistics, semantic change is a change in one of the meanings of a word...

 to the status of mere interjection
In grammar, an interjection or exclamation is a word used to express an emotion or sentiment on the part of the speaker . Filled pauses such as uh, er, um are also considered interjections...



Classical Latin
Classical Latin
Classical Latin in simplest terms is the socio-linguistic register of the Latin language regarded by the enfranchised and empowered populations of the late Roman republic and the Roman empire as good Latin. Most writers during this time made use of it...

 damnum means "damage, cost, expense; penalty, fine", ultimately from a PIE
A pie is a baked dish which is usually made of a pastry dough casing that covers or completely contains a filling of various sweet or savoury ingredients....

 root *dap-. The verb damnare in Roman law
Roman law
Roman law is the legal system of ancient Rome, and the legal developments which occurred before the 7th century AD — when the Roman–Byzantine state adopted Greek as the language of government. The development of Roman law comprises more than a thousand years of jurisprudence — from the Twelve...

 acquired a legal meaning of "to pronounce judgement upon".

The word enters Middle English
Middle English
Middle English is the stage in the history of the English language during the High and Late Middle Ages, or roughly during the four centuries between the late 11th and the late 15th century....

 usage from Old French in the early 14th century.
The secular meaning survives in English "to condemn" (in a court of law), or "damning criticism". The noun damnation itself is mostly reserved for the religious sense in Modern English, while condemnation remains common in secular usage.

During the 18th century and until about 1930, use of damn as an expletive was considered a severe profanity and was mostly avoided in print. The expression "not worth a damn" is recorded in 1802. Use of damn as an adjective, short for damned, is recorded in 1775. Damn Yankee (a Southern US term for "Northerner") dates to 1812.


In some forms of Western Christian
Western Christianity
Western Christianity is a term used to include the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church and groups historically derivative thereof, including the churches of the Anglican and Protestant traditions, which share common attributes that can be traced back to their medieval heritage...

 belief, damnation to hell
Hell in Christian beliefs
Christian views on Hell vary, but in general traditionally agree that hell is a place or a state in which the souls of the unsaved suffer the consequences of sin....

 is what humanity deserves for its sins, and only by the grace of God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

 and salvation through Jesus Christ, can one atone for their sins and escape damnation.
One conception is of eternal suffering and denial of entrance to heaven
Heaven, the Heavens or Seven Heavens, is a common religious cosmological or metaphysical term for the physical or transcendent place from which heavenly beings originate, are enthroned or inhabit...

, often described in the Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

 as burning in a Lake of Fire
Lake of Fire
A lake of fire appears, in both ancient Egyptian and Christian religion, as a place of after-death punishment of the wicked. The phrase is used in four verses of the Book of Revelation. The image was also used by the Early Christian Hippolytus of Rome in about the year 200 and has continued to be...

. Another conception, derived from the scripture about Gehenna
Gehenna , Gehinnom and Yiddish Gehinnam, are terms derived from a place outside ancient Jerusalem known in the Hebrew Bible as the Valley of the Son of Hinnom ; one of the two principal valleys surrounding the Old City.In the Hebrew Bible, the site was initially where apostate Israelites and...

is simply that people will be discarded (burned), as being unworthy of preservation by God. The reasons for being damned have varied widely over the centuries, from murder to dancing.

In Eastern Christian traditions (Eastern Orthodoxy and Oriental Orthodoxy
Oriental Orthodoxy
Oriental Orthodoxy is the faith of those Eastern Christian Churches that recognize only three ecumenical councils — the First Council of Nicaea, the First Council of Constantinople and the First Council of Ephesus. They rejected the dogmatic definitions of the Council of Chalcedon...

), as well as some Western traditions, it is seen as a state of opposition to the love of God, a state into which all humans are born but against which Christ
Christ is the English term for the Greek meaning "the anointed one". It is a translation of the Hebrew , usually transliterated into English as Messiah or Mashiach...

 is the Mediator
Mediation, as used in law, is a form of alternative dispute resolution , a way of resolving disputes between two or more parties. A third party, the mediator, assists the parties to negotiate their own settlement...

 and Redeemer.


Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 has inherited the notion of damnation from Christianity .
Similar to the Christian God, God in Islam
God in Islam
In Islamic theology, God is the all-powerful and all-knowing creator, sustainer, ordainer, and judge of the universe. Islam puts a heavy emphasis on the conceptualization of God as strictly singular . God is unique and inherently One , all-merciful and omnipotent. According to the Islamic...

 is depicted as forgiving (Al-Ghafir
Al-Ghāfir is one of the titles of God in Islam, translated as "The Forgiver".It is deried from the root gh-f-r . The basic meaning of the root is "to cover, to shield, to protect", besides "to forgive"....

), but certain sins, such as apostasy
Apostasy in Islam
Apostasy in Islam is commonly defined in Islam as the rejection in word or deed of one's former religion by a person who was previously a follower of Islam...

 or idolatry are considered unforgivable.

As profanity

Historically, from the 19th century until the 1930s, the exclamation "damn" was mostly considered unprintable.
The use of "damn" in Rhett Butler's
Rhett Butler
Rhett Butler is a fictional character and one of the main protagonists of Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell.-Role:In the beginning of the novel, we first meet Rhett at the Twelve Oaks Plantation barbecue, the home of John Wilkes and his son Ashley and daughters Honey and India Wilkes...

 parting line to Scarlett O'Hara
Scarlett O'Hara
Scarlett O' Hara is the protagonist in Margaret Mitchell's 1936 novel Gone with the Wind and in the later film of the same name...

 in the film Gone with the Wind
Gone with the Wind (film)
Gone with the Wind is a 1939 American historical epic film adapted from Margaret Mitchell's Pulitzer-winning 1936 novel of the same name. It was produced by David O. Selznick and directed by Victor Fleming from a screenplay by Sidney Howard...

in 1939 challenged sensitivities at the time.

"Damn" today is a mildly profane word used in North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

, the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 and Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, although "God damn," or "Goddamn," is still considered highly blasphemous by religious people, taken either as a condemnation of God or as a violation of the commandment against taking God's name in vain. The term is mostly broadcast in the United Kingdom (usually through American imports, but it is not considered blasphemous. "Dang" or "darn" are sometimes used as euphemism
A euphemism is the substitution of a mild, inoffensive, relatively uncontroversial phrase for another more frank expression that might offend or otherwise suggest something unpleasant to the audience...

s, specifically minced oath
Minced oath
A minced oath is an expression based on a profanity or a taboo term that has been altered to reduce the objectionable characteristics.Many languages have such expressions...

s, for "damn".

"Damn" is also used colloquially as an emphatic exclamation; e.g. "Damn, he/she is fine" or perhaps "Damn, he has a nice car!" "Hot damn" may be used similarly, but it is somewhat distinct; for example, if one says, "Joe just won the lottery," a response of "Damn!" on its own can indicate disapproval, but "Hot damn!" indicates approval or surprise or pain.
"Damned" is also used as an adjective synonymous with "annoying" or "uncooperative," or as a means of giving emphasis. For example, "The damn(ed) furnace isn't working again!" or, "I just washed the damn(ed) car!" or, "The damn(ed) dog won't stop barking!" (The word "damned" is usually only used in North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

, whereas in other English speaking countries the word is simply "damn".)

In Indian English
Indian English
Indian English is an umbrella term used to describe dialects of the English language spoken primarily in the Republic of India.As a result of British colonial rule until Indian independence in 1947 English is an official language of India and is widely used in both spoken and literary contexts...

, there is a folk etymology connecting "I don't give a damn" with the dam, a 16th-century copper coin. Salman Rushdie, in a 1985 essay on the dictionary of Anglo-Indian terms 'Hobson-Jobson
Hobson-Jobson is the short title of Hobson-Jobson: A Glossary of Colloquial Anglo-Indian Words and Phrases, and of Kindred Terms, Etymological, Historical, Geographical and Discursive, a historical dictionary of Anglo-Indian words and terms from Indian languages which came into use during the...

', ends with this:
"Frankly, my dear, I don't give a small copper coin weighing one tolah, eight masha
In the Russian language, Masha is a diminutive of Maria. The meaning is not known for certain, but there are several theories including "sea of bitterness", "rebelliousness", and "wished for child". However it was most likely originally an Egyptian name, perhaps derived in part from my "beloved"...

s and seven surkh
Surkh is a town and jamoat in northern Tajikistan. It is located in Isfara District in Sughd province. The jamoat has a total population of 10,396.-References:...

s, being the fortieth part of a rupee
The rupee is the common name for the monetary unit of account in India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Pakistan, Mauritius, Seychelles, Maldives, and formerly in Burma, and Afghanistan. Historically, the first currency called "rupee" was introduced in the 16th century...

'. Or, to put it more concisely, a dam."

See also

  • Afterlife
    The afterlife is the belief that a part of, or essence of, or soul of an individual, which carries with it and confers personal identity, survives the death of the body of this world and this lifetime, by natural or supernatural means, in contrast to the belief in eternal...

  • Hell
    In many religious traditions, a hell is a place of suffering and punishment in the afterlife. Religions with a linear divine history often depict hells as endless. Religions with a cyclic history often depict a hell as an intermediary period between incarnations...

  • Imprecations (Bible)
  • Problem of Hell
    Problem of Hell
    The "Problem of Hell" is a possible ethical problem related to religions in which portrayals of Hell are ostensibly cruel, and are thus inconsistent with the concepts of a just, moral and omnibenevolent God...

  • The Prokletije
    Prokletije or Albanian Alps is a mountain range in the Balkans that extends from northern Albania, to southwestern Serbia and eastern Montenegro. Its highest point, Jezercë in Albania at , is the tallest peak in the entire Dinaric Alps...

    mountains in Albania and Montenegro, whose name means "Damned".

Further reading

  • The Justice of God in the Damnation of Sinners Jonathan Edwards, Diggory Press, ISBN 978-1-84685-672-3
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