Word Origin & History

O.E., from M.L., representing Gk. abbreviation of IHSOUS "Jesus," in which -H- is the capital of the Gk. vowel eta. The Roman form would be I.E.S. Mistaken for a L. contraction in the Middle Ages, after its Gk. origin was forgotten, and sometimes treated as short for Iesus Hominum Salvator "Jesus Savior
of Men." Alternative version I.H.C. (terminal -s- often written -c- in later Gk.) is found on vestments from 950 C.E., and may be the source of the H. in slang Jesus H. Christ.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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