Thursday, March 12, 2009

Definition of the week: "The dickens!"

Dickens was — and still is, though people hardly know it any more — a euphemism for the Devil, according to World Wide Words.

It is used in expressions such as "what the dickens," "where the dickens," "the dickens you are!," and "the dickens you say!"

The Phrase Finder Web site

Meaning: A lot; as in 'hurts like the dickens' or 'run like the dickens!'

Origin: Nothing to do with Charles Dickens. Dickens is a euphemism for the word devil, possibly via devilkins. Shakespeare used it in 'the Merry Wives of Windsor: 'I cannot tell what the dickens his name is my husband had him of.'

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