Here’s Where the “H” in “Jesus H. Christ” Actually Comes From

Have you ever heard someone in a rage of fury shout out the words, “Jesus Christ!” at the top of your lungs? Of course you have. How about “Jesus H. Christ!”? Of course you have. But have you ever really thought about what the “H” stands for, or why people sometimes use this variation and don’t even bat an eye?

Before you try and guess what Jesus’ middle name was (Henry? Harold?), know that the initials have nothing to do with that. That’s because “Jesus Christ” wasn’t his first and last name, as some people might imagine. Christ isn’t the last name, but Jesus’ “epithet,” or descriptive title.

Okay, so where does the H come into play? First, let’s understand that there are many different ways to represent Jesus Christ’s name, but most often, Christian people use the Chi Rho monogram, which has the first two letters of the Greek word Χριστό (which translates to “Christ). See below, if you’re not familiar with it.

While that might look familiar to some, there is also a second monogram that isn’t as well known that’s used to represent Jesus: the IHϹ monogram. It’s made up of the first three letters of the Greek spelling for Jesus, which is Ἰησοῦς.” See below for that one!

Still with us? Good!

The thing is, some people weren’t quite as with it, and in the early 19th century, Americans actually misinterpreted this second monogram. Instead of reading it as Greek letters IHC, they read it as Latin letters JHC. And what does JHC stand for, you presume? Why of course—“J” stands for “Jesus” and the “C” stands for “Christ,” therefore the “H” stands for Jesus’s middle name.

One of the earliest pieces of evidence of the phrase being used was in Mark Twain’s autobiography, which came from a printer mishap. It wasn’t the origin of the phrase, but it was used throughout and likely where many people picked up on it as well.

Of course, that’s not at all what the monogram meant, but somehow, this misinterpretation really stuck—so much so, that no one even blinks an eye when someone gives a good old “Jesus H. Christ!”

The more you know, right? Were you aware of the origin of the “H” in Jesus H. Christ came from, and that it actually shouldn’t be there at all? Do you ever shout the phrase when you’re a little angry?