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What is "the dickens?"


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#1 Guest-jack hammer-*

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Posted 19 December 2009 - 12:07 PM

Does anyone know what "the dickens" is: as in the expression "it's colder than "the dickens?"

#2 Sleepless in Hillcrest

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Posted 19 December 2009 - 12:09 PM

http://www.worldwide.../qa/qa-dic3.htm
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#3 Guest-Guest-*

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Posted 19 December 2009 - 12:10 PM

It's like saying "the devil", it's just a euphemism.

#4 Bee

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Posted 19 December 2009 - 12:17 PM

QUOTE (jack hammer @ Dec 19 2009, 05:07 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Does anyone know what "the dickens" is: as in the expression "it's colder than "the dickens?"


From World Wide Words

Q] From Jan Walsh: Do you know where the phrase hurts like the dickens comes from? [A] Let’s focus in on dickens as the important word here, since there are lots of different expressions with it in, such as what the dickens, where the dickens, the dickens you are!, and the dickens you say!

It goes back a lot further than Charles Dickens, though it does seem to have been borrowed from the English surname, most likely sometime in the sixteenth century or before. (The surname itself probably derives from Dickin or Dickon, familiar diminutive forms of Dick.) It was — and still is, though people hardly know it any more — a euphemism for the Devil. It’s very much in the same style as deuce, as in old oaths like what the deuce! which contains another name for the Devil.

The first person known to use it was that great recorder of Elizabethan expressions, William Shakespeare, in The Merry Wives of Windsor: “FORD: Where had you this pretty weathercock? MRS PAGE: I cannot tell what the dickens his name is my husband had him of”. That pun relied on the audience knowing that Dickens was a personal name and that what the dickens was a mild oath which called on the Devil.


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#5 Doctor X

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Posted 19 December 2009 - 12:44 PM

QUOTE (Bee @ Dec 19 2009, 06:17 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
From World Wide Words

Q] From Jan Walsh: Do you know where the phrase hurts like the dickens comes from? [A] Let’s focus in on dickens as the important word here, since there are lots of different expressions with it in, such as what the dickens, where the dickens, the dickens you are!, and the dickens you say!

It goes back a lot further than Charles Dickens, though it does seem to have been borrowed from the English surname, most likely sometime in the sixteenth century or before. (The surname itself probably derives from Dickin or Dickon, familiar diminutive forms of Dick.) It was — and still is, though people hardly know it any more — a euphemism for the Devil. It’s very much in the same style as deuce, as in old oaths like what the deuce! which contains another name for the Devil.

The first person known to use it was that great recorder of Elizabethan expressions, William Shakespeare, in The Merry Wives of Windsor: “FORD: Where had you this pretty weathercock? MRS PAGE: I cannot tell what the dickens his name is my husband had him of”. That pun relied on the audience knowing that Dickens was a personal name and that what the dickens was a mild oath which called on the Devil.



Oh, thanks, what about "Jimmy cracked corn?"


#6 Rick Shaw

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Posted 19 December 2009 - 12:56 PM

QUOTE (Doctor X @ Dec 19 2009, 12:44 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Oh, thanks, what about "Jimmy cracked corn?"



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#7 Doctor X

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Posted 19 December 2009 - 01:07 PM

QUOTE (Rick Shaw @ Dec 19 2009, 06:56 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
And I don't care! tongue.gif tongue.gif tongue.gif


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