Heavens to...

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Wed Nov 1 04:15:22 UTC 2000

"Heavens to Betsy" is apparently entirely mysterious in its origin. It is
discussed at the M-W Web site and at Quinion's site. There is a book by
this title by Charles Earle Funk (1955, now available in paperback), in
which Dr. Funk reports his failure to establish an 'etymology'.

"Heavens to Murgatroyd" seems to me to be a joke on the 'opacity' of the
exclamation with "Betsy" -- i.e., instead of a plain bland (woman's) first
name one might as well use a very uncommon and odd-sounding (man's [I
think]) first name -- neither makes any sense anyway.

I remember the cartoon lion saying this, I think, and he debuted in 1961 or
so. I have a feeling that it was copied, however, from some earlier comedy
... I have a vague and possibly spurious recollection of hearing this in
some old slapstick movie -- maybe the Marx Brothers or the Three Stooges.

-- Doug Wilson

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