Is saying "Jeez(e)!" (also: Geez(e), Jese, Jez, and with lower-case initial) using God's name in vain?
The term "using God's name in vain" comes from the Ten Commandments, which were given to Moses in the Old Testament:
"Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain" (Exodus 20:7, KJV).
The New International Version renders it as follows:
"You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God" (Exodus 20:7, NIV).
For there to be an incorrect way to use God's name, there must also be a correct way. God's power is manifested where his name is used appropriately. Some of the contexts where the use of God's name is appropriate are:
- Praying (Matthew 6:9, John 14:13–14).
- Doing God's work (Matthew 28:19, Acts 4:30, James 5:14).
- Preaching the gospel (Acts 9:27, Acts 17:3).
Taking the name of the Lord in vain is a form of blasphemy. To use God's name in vain means to use it in a way that doesn't show proper respect – to use it out of context, or in a demeaning way. Some of the definitions of "vain" are "not yielding the desired outcome" or "lacking substance or worth." Using God's name without the desire to invoke Him; not really meaning it.
Therefore, to bring it back to your question, yes, using the slang term "Jeez" is taking God's name in vain because, as you stated, it is a corrupted form of the name Jesus, which is one of the names of God.
Imagine how annoyed you'd be if people kept using your name without looking to you – yelling out your name as if to call your attention but then turning their back on you; referring to you by a nickname you didn't like; using your name as a filler word or as an insult. I'm sure God doesn't get annoyed in exactly the same way we do, but it's something to think about.
Some Catholics do consider the use of the phrase "Jeez" as being a form of violation of the Second Commandment. However, the use of such phrases are, to say the least very close to blasphemy, although the intention of the user many not be aware that this phrase is also by definition an euphemism for Jesus (1923). Once being made aware of such circumstances of honor towards the Holy Name of Jesus, such expressions should be culled from our vocabulary. At a minimum, employing such terms is disrespectful to the sacredness of the Name of Jesus.
The use of the word Geez is not only a variant of Jeez, but is also the liturgical language of the Coptic Church in Ethiopia. The use of this word in a disparagingly way, would be offensive to both Coptic Catholics and Coptic Orthodox Christians. Once again, the use of this word should be culled from our daily vocabulary.
Although the usage of such words, phrases or terms may or may not be technically blasphemy or a direct violation of the Second Commandment, they should only be used in a context befitting the honor and reverence towards the majesty of God.
"While etymologically blasphemy may denote the derogation of the honour due to a creature as well as of that belonging to God, in its strict acceptation it is used only in the latter sense. Hence it has been defined by Francisco Suárez as "any word of malediction, reproach, or contumely pronounced against God: (De Relig., tract. iii, lib. I, cap. iv, n. 1). It is to be noted that according to the definition (1) blasphemy is set down as a word, for ordinarily it is expressed in speech, though it may be committed in thought or in act. Being primarily a sin of the tongue, it will be seen to be opposed directly to the religious act of praising God. (2) It is said to be against God, though this may be only mediately, as when the contumelious word is spoken of the saints or of sacred things, because of the relationship they sustain to God and His service.
Blasphemy, by reason of the significance of the words with which it is expressed, may be of three kinds.
- It is heretical when the insult to God involves a declaration that is against faith, as in the assertion: "God is cruel and unjust" or "The noblest work of man is God".
- It is imprecatory when it would cry a malediction upon the Supreme Being as when one would say: "Away with God".
- It is simply contumacious when it is wholly made up of contempt of, or indignation towards, God, as in the blasphemy of Julian the Apostate: "Thou has conquered, O Galilaean".
Again, blasphemy may be (1) either direct, as when the one blaspheming formally intends to dishonor the Divinity, or (2) indirect, as when without such intention blasphemous words are used with advertence to their import."
It could also be noted that some Catholics find it somewhat irreverent to use various diminutive names that are being applied to the Saints! Some say for example St. Paddy and Joe for St. Patrick and St. Joseph.
Well, most of catholics thinks that such similar expressions are not a violation of the 2nd Commandment - they consider only explicit blasphemies or offense to Him. For example, in Italian it's common to associate God's to a dog or a pig as imprecation, which is obviously a blasphemy - but no one consider saying "oh Jesus" as a sin. BUT... the Bible is clear: "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain" (in italian - "non nominerai il nome di Dio invano", in latin - "non adsumes nomen Domini Dei tui in vanum"). "In vain" means "without a reason". So, it's not important if you corrupt Jesus' name or not, or if you use offensive concepts to define God or not - he only thing that is important is: there is a reason to use God's name in this occasion? Obviously, there's never a good reason to offend God. Is there a reason to say "Jeez?"
It's up to you. For Example, your question is a good reason, because it's for knowlege. My answer (which contains at least one blasphemy) is a good reason too, because it was to explain the 2nd Commandment.
But the Commandment is more then simply "not take the name of the Lord". Think people who use God's name to justify their actions. Even Crusades, Inquisition and Holy Wars are probably examples of "using God's name in vain" (In fact, pope John Paul II asked forgivness for that in 2000)
Fun fact: The 2nc Commandment is (one of) the reason why God, actually, doesn't have a name. God's name, from Ebraic, it's written JHWH (or YHWH), but we don't know how to pronounce it in the right way because Jews, to be sure not violating the commandment, preferred to not pronounce it at all. That's also why, in the Bible, God is often reffered as "God" or other periphrasis ("the creator", "the Alpha and Omega", "I am who I am", "the Father"...)
Fr. Chad Ripperger, in his talk on decorum (a type of modesty), says that derivative words like "gosh" (derived from "God") are profane (but not vulgar) words. "Profane" means the use of something sacred for a non-sacred, worldly use. Thus, using these derivative words would be a violation of the 2nd Commandment.