A recent Bizarro, turning on the ambiguity of the verb darn, in a perfect pun:

According to OED2, the verb darn that alternates with damn has the alternative spellings dern and durn, originated as a “perversion of DAMN n. in profane use (Chiefly U.S.)”, and is attested from 1781 on. The euphemistic avoidance appeared at about the same time in the noun darnation — and a while back in another Bizarro:

(Tiny wings, dunce cap instead of halo, dumb underwear instead of flowing white gown, clunky boots instead of sandals, accordion instead of harp.)

OED2 says darnation is a “perversion of damnation, in profane use (chiefly U.S.)” — see darn above — and gives a first cite in 1798; most of its cites are 19th-century. In fact, it was often used for damned (“the darnation Bostonians” in 1798, a darnation sight plus Adj-er in 1840). And also in darnation take NP (1825) and to darnation (1878).

At roughly the same time (earliest cite in 1790), a slang variant of darnation/damnation appeared (again chiefly in the U.S.): tarnation, apparently (the OED speculates) by association with tarnal, a dialect pronounciation of clipped eternal: tarnation! as a free-standing exclamation and tarnation take/seize/strike me!

These are noun uses of tarnation, but there are also adjective uses (‘damned, damnable, execrable’: “in a tarnation hurry”) from 1784 on and adverb uses (‘damnably, desperately, execrably’: “so tarnation glum”) from 1790 on.

Darnation and tarnation now strike many speakers as both old-fashioned and rustic, though examples (not all of them tongue-in-cheek) can still be found.

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