We were playing Scrabble with our eight-year-old grandson when he happened on the word vum in the Scrabble Dictionary (which we encourage him to use as he plays because it’s good for his vocabulary). It said “interj.—used to express surprise,” and we all thought this was hilarious and went around saying “Vum!” for a while. Of course I then had to research it, and found a good AHD entry:
interj. New England
Used to express surprise.
[Alteration of vow.]
Regional Note: New Englanders sometimes express surprise by saying, “Well, I vum!” This odd-sounding word is in fact an alteration of the verb vow that goes back to the days of the American Revolution. It is also heard simply as “Vum!” or as a sort of past participle: “I’ll be vummed!” A Southern equivalent is swan or swanny, also meaning “swear”: “Now, I swanny!” According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word swanny derives from the dialect of the north of England: I s’ wan ye, “I shall warrant ye.”
Now, they say “express,” present tense, but I live in New England and I find it hard to believe it’s been used in living memory. Of course, my incredulity means nothing. Anybody know whether this ludicrous lexeme is still in use?