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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?

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The oldest instance in Google Books is from 1857: google.com/… – nohat Mar 9 '11 at 23:23
    
I expect there might be embedded in its development some reference to Saint Elizabeth. – D.C. al Fine Jan 18 at 1:50
    
One wonders whether it wasn't the invention of some author, in an attempt to produce an "oath" which sounded "real" but carried no serious connotation. – Hot Licks Jan 18 at 2:38
    
Seems like someone should be able to come up with a better answer than the accepted one, which is only "I am of the opinion...." Dommage. Nothing hiding behind a possible use as a euphemism? – Drew Jan 19 at 0:32
    
@D.C.alFine -- I don't see anything in the history/tradition of any of the 4 St Elizabeths that would make one of them be appropriate for an oath. Did you have a specific connection in mind? – Hot Licks Jan 19 at 4:25
up vote 11 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.

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I like your "Hell's Bells" concept, it makes the most sense of anything I can think of. – Darren Oct 21 '14 at 21:43

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