What are the constraints on replacements of the phrase “Holy S—t”?

When my friend found out that the new season of Rick and Morty is going to be released this year, he yelled in excitement:

Holy fucking Rick!

This is not a valid (ie. grammatically correct) replacement for the phrase “Holy Shit.”

It made me think:

What words could replace “shit” in this slang, without changing its meaning?

For example, I know that we can use these:

  • Holy Fuck

    An exclamation, much like “Holy Shit!”, but more offensive, which is good.

  • Holy Moly

    a term often used instead of and meaning “holy shit” either by a young person in front of *their parents to avoid getting an ass whooping or by a young person in front of peers as a term of surprise, shock.

Now, “fuck” and “moly” are both nouns here. But we can’t use every other noun as a replacement for the word “shit” to indicate surprise!

So my question is, given a phrase like this, how can I validate it to see if it’s a correct replacement of “holy shit”? What words are acceptable here? How I can prove to my friend that what he said doesn’t make sense?

Answer

I see no problem with “holy fucking Rick”. Really, any noun or noun phrase can be used in this expression. It’s a snowclone.

“Holy astringent plum-like fruit!” Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show always had some crazy variation on the phrase. It’s so iconic that Robin has continued to say lines like these ever since. (See this video of clips from The New Adventures of Batman for example.)

You’ll see similar elsewhere, even when it’s not a parody of campy Robin. For example, here are some examples from Google Books:

See also the Wikipedia page for this expression.

Attribution
Source : Link , Question Author : Amir Shabani , Answer Author : Laurel

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