Lord Love a Duck or what am I going on about?

The best of friends? Oh Lord, love a duck!

There are expressions you grow up with and have no idea where they came from, or what they really mean, you just use them.  Such is the case of Lord, love a duck!  I quite often come into the kitchen to fix a cup a tea and announce to the kettle, Lord, love a duck. Thankfully the only reply I get from the tea kettle is its loud protesting whistle. Lately, I’ve been adding to it as Lord love a duck and the duck love me. Odd behaviour to say the least.

I’ve been rooting around looking for the history of this expression and am coming up short. I’ve been told by some friends, it’s a polite way of swearing, or the opposite a polite way of saying, the Lord, love me. I don’t quite get that one.

I checked the good old OED, and it has curiously only one reference explanation that of James Joyce’s Ulysses: “Paddy Leonard eyed his alemates. Lord love a duck, he said. Look at what I’m standing drinks to!”

James Joyce

James Joyce (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It  turns up several times in the works of P G Wodehouse,  ” ‘Well, Lord love a duck!’ replied the butler, who in his moments of relaxation was addicted to homely expletives of the lower London type.”

Woodhouse might have believed the expression to have come the East End of London, but it’s possible it came from greener grounds, the cricket pitch, where apparently ducks abound.

Sunday Cricket in Meopham

That’s where if you get a duck, you are put out. Your first ball bowled, you get a golden duck, and when you make a run for it, you break your duck. Apparently there’s lot of quacking going on in cricket.

But Duck(y) is quite often used by bar maids.  Could it be that duck  is just slang for bird which is just slang for attractive girl, and maybe Duck is the not so nice euphemismn for the older bird. Ahem….girl.

It’s used as a term of great endearment, ‘How are you ducky? Come here you poor duck and have a cup of tea.’

There’s a film titled, Lord Love a Duck, which I’ve never seen. Regardless,  I’ve not had much luck in discovering the origins of this peculiar expression. It could be a northern usage or at least a phrase often heard as Coronation Street’s fictional  bar maids toss it about.

Lord Love a Duck

Lord Love a Duck (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you have any insight into this rather ducky phrase, I’d love to learn more.  I rather like the whole messy affair of wondering where the expression came from. Oh,  Lord love a duck I have no idea what I am on about!

About susan sheldon nolen

It’s rare to catch me without coffee, a form of camera, or my beloved wire fox terriers. I love the history, the art, and it’s a massive part of my life, as I either paint, write, or get interrupted by my dogs, reminding me of the real world. I hope you enjoy your time here. It’s such a privilege to have readers.
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4 Responses to Lord Love a Duck or what am I going on about?

  1. Carrie Rubin says:

    I have never used the phrase “Lord, love a duck.” However, now that I’ve read this post, I suspect it will creep into my vernacular. Should I thank you or curse you? 😉

  2. Ah, curses, curses always! Lord Love a Duck! 😉

  3. paralaxvu says:

    Well, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle! Now you’ve got me looking for the cursed beginnings, too. But will I stop? No sirree, Bob! Since I love Dr. Mallard on NCIS, I shall now have a phrase just for him. So thank you very very very much! (That last came from the musical version of A Christmas Carol. All the others? Ain’t a clue, ain’t a clue!

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