'By Jove': Meaning, Definition, Origin

By Shanea Patterson, updated on February 16, 2023

You might have heard the expression ‘by Jove and wondered what it meant. You might also be wondering how it’s used in the English language correctly. We’ll answer that in this article, plus you’ll learn how to use the phrase in a sentence.

The short answer is that ‘by Jove is used to express surprise. It’s primarily used in British English rather than American English. It’s also used to add emphasis.

What is the Origin of ‘By Jove’?

The phrase ‘by Jove’ comes from the late 14th century, and it was originally used as a way to refer to Jupiter, the Roman god.

Jove, otherwise known as Jupiter, was the Roman god of the sky who had power over both gods and men.

So, in the 14th century, when people started saying, “by Jov,” it was a way to say “my god” or “good god” without taking the Christian God’s name in vain, which was blasphemy and sin.

How to Use ‘By Jove’

To use ‘by Jove' correctly, simply use them the same way you’d use phrases like ‘my god’ and ‘good god.’

For example, you might say, ‘By Jove, you guys made a mess in here! Clean this up right now.”

Definition and Meaning of ‘Jove’ 

Now that we know a little bit more about the phrase let’s see the actual definition.

According to Merriam-Webster, it means ‘Jupiter.’

It’s also used to express surprise or add emphasis.

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce ‘By Jove’

Wondering how to pronounce this word correctly? Here’s a short guide.

  • To pronounce this phrase correctly here’s the phonetic spelling: BY JOHV

How to Use ‘By Jove’ in a Sentence

Now that you know what the phrase means and how to pronounce it let’s see some sentence examples.

  • By Jove, your niece got so big since I last saw her. She’s so beautiful!
  • By Jove, that fire is going to destroy their home. Someone call the fire department now!
  • By Jove, Mark, it’s such a beautiful day outside. Let’s take the kids to the park.
  • By Jove, I was so happy to see her. It had been over two years since the last time I saw Pauline.
  • By Jove, why did we come on this camping trip? It turned out to be the worst trip of my life.
  • By Jove, you’re soaking wet! What happened to you?

Final Advice on ‘By Jove’

To recap, we learned that ‘by Jove is from the Greek word ‘philos,’ which means lover of or enthusiast of. There are lots of words that end in the suffix ‘phile,’ and they all mean lover of whatever the prefix word is.

It’s mostly used in British English (and in other English-speaking countries outside the U.S.) rather than American English. It’s also used to add emphasis.

If you ever get stuck on usage or meaning, you can always come back here for a quick refresher. We’ve got a ton of other content on confusing words and phrases people often struggle with while learning the language. Feel free to check it out anytime you need to.

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Written By:
Shanea Patterson
Shanea Patterson is a writer based in New York and loves writing for brands big and small. She has a master's degree in professional writing from New York University and a bachelor's degree in English from Mercy College.

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