I found the phrase “Honest to gosh” in the New York Times (April 5) article titled “Send in the Clowns, and Cheese,” in which the author, Gail Collins blames the squander that the GSA (General Services Administration’s Public Buildings Service) wasted more than $820,000 for holding a 4-day gathering to open lines of communication and improve teamwork by serving $4-apiece shrimp and an “American Artisanal Cheese Display” and employing a professional mind-reader and clown as entertainers at the M Resort Spa Casino in Las Vegas in 2010.
The article ends up with the following sentence:
“They should have been able to find a spot, what with being the people whose job is managing government buildings. Honest to gosh, you’d think they just wanted to hang out at a resort casino spa.”
I understand “Honest to gosh” be an equivalent to “honest to God,” and simply means “honestly speaking,” but I don’t find this phrase in most of English dictionaries.
Is “Honest to gosh” more popular idiom than “honest to God”? Why is there the need to use “gosh” deliberately, instead of “God”?