Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I believe it is primarily an American phrase, used as an exclamation:

Heavens to Betsy, no! I would never do such a thing!

What is the origin of that phrase? Do we know who Betsy is?

share|improve this question
1  
The oldest instance in Google Books is from 1857: google.com/… –  nohat Mar 9 '11 at 23:23

1 Answer 1

up vote 10 down vote accepted

Charles E. Funk suggests that its origins are "completely unsolvable."

I am of the opinion that the phrase is pseudo-profanity derived from "Hell's Bells", but there is no evidence of that, either.

share|improve this answer
    
I like your "Hell's Bells" concept, it makes the most sense of anything I can think of. –  Darren Oct 21 at 21:43

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.