From Latin pro Iovem. Ellipsis of a full oath of the form "I swear by Jove that…" Originally a literal oath; later a minced oath.
- (obsolete, Classics) Invocation of the Roman god Jupiter.
- 1575, “Apius and Virginia”, in Isaac Reed, Octavius Gilchrist, editor, A Select Collection of Old Plays, London: Septimus Prowett, published 1826, page 353:
- By Jove, master marchant, by sea or by land / Would get but smale argent if I did not stand / His very good master, I may say to you, / When he hazards in hope what hap will insue.
- a. 1639, Webster, John, Appius and Virginia, London: printed for Humphrey Moseley, published 1659, act 3, scene 1, page 38:
- By Joves help I'l[sic] be there.
- (dated, chiefly British) minced oath for by God, Jove referring to Jupiter.
- 1623, William Shakespeare, Love's Labour's Lost, Act V, scene II:
- By Jove, I always took three threes for nine.
- 1623, William Shakespeare, The Tragedy of Antony and Cleopatra, Act III, scene XIII:
- Favours, by Jove that thunders! What art thou, fellow?
- 1897, Corelli, Marie, “Chapter I”, in Ziska: The Problem of a Wicked Soul, New York: Stone & Kimball, page 30:
- "Oh, as to that!"—and Lord Fulkeward roused himself to some faint show of energy. "Who wouldn't admire her? By Jove! Only, I tell you what—there's something weird about her eyes. Fact! I don't like her eyes."
- 1912, Arthur Conan Doyle, The Lost World […], London; New York, N.Y.: Hodder and Stoughton, OCLC 1029993343:
- "I was sorry to fire my rifle, but, by Jove! there was no great choice." "We should not be here if you hadn't," said I, with conviction.
- 1916, P. G. Wodehouse, “Jeeves Takes Charge”, in A Wodehouse Miscellany:
- Well, I wasn't going to have any of that sort of thing, by Jove!
- See Thesaurus:wow