An alternative is: “holy smoke!”

Is it inappropriate in Haredi circles to say this phrase?

  • 2
    Is there a reason it should be inappropriate? Please elaborate.
    – shmosel
    May 5 at 22:32
  • @shmosel by swear words that sound similar.
    – Andrew
    May 5 at 22:46
  • 6
    Very inappropriate unless followed by the word "Batman" as in "Holy Smokes, Batman". May 6 at 17:26
  • 5
    I heard the expression "Holy Toledo!" came from the fact that the Rosh and the Tur lived there ;-)
    – robev
    May 6 at 18:54
  • 2
    If someone wants to avoid saying it in order to preserve the awe of the word "holy", I personally think that is praiseworthy
    – Rabbi Kaii
    May 7 at 8:49

1 Answer 1


The origin of holy smokes is not clear, but it does not seem to have any religious meaning (it is not related to the smoke of offerings or worshipping deities). It is just an expression of surprise or shock, like holy cow.
Different groups of chardei people may use it differently. For instance, I doubt that Rabbi Frand would say "holy smokes, what was he thinking?" when talking about Moshe at the agudah convention.
But I can picture two Yeshiva chardei guys outside a store saying "holy smokes, that guy just bought angels’ bread".
It is not considered swearing or taking an oath, just slang.


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