Heavens to...

Fred Shapiro fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU
Wed Nov 1 03:23:16 UTC 2000

On Tue, 31 Oct 2000, Peter A. McGraw wrote:

> One of our secretaries just asked me if I knew where the expression
> "Heavens to Murgatroyd" came from.  I hadn't a clue.  I guess I'd heard it
> before, but certainly not often.  DARE has only the more familiar "Heavens
> to Betsy," with "etym. unknown."
> Have others heard the Murgatroyd version?  Anybody have a clue where the
> construction comes from, even if DARE doesn't?  It sounds as if it ought to
> be a euphemism, but I can't think for what, and the "Heavens to..."
> construction is grammatically opaque to me.

Brewer's Quotations has this to say:  "A cartoon lion called Snagglepuss,
which came out of the Hannah-Barbera studios in the 1960s, was given to
exclaiming 'Heavens to Murgatroyd!'  He made his first appearance in The
Yogi Bear Show, but his catchphrase was apparently not original, however.
An American correspondent noted (1993): 'It was a favorite expression of a
favorite uncle of mine in teh 1940s, and my wife also remembers it from
her growing-up years in the '40s."

Personally, I think Snagglepuss's greatest line was "Exit stage left."

Fred Shapiro

Fred R. Shapiro                             Editor
Associate Librarian for Public Services     YALE DICTIONARY OF QUOTATIONS
  and Lecturer in Legal Research            Yale University Press,
Yale Law School                             forthcoming
e-mail: fred.shapiro at yale.edu               http://quotationdictionary.com

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