"Billy Ned"

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Wed Jan 30 01:29:34 UTC 2008

I've never heard of "Billy Ned" but ....

"Billy-be-damned" = "billy-hell" = "Billy-o[h]" (all in HDAS) is just
a standard of comparison, like "hell" in "It hurt like hell", "I
worked like hell", etc.

I don't know whence the "Billy" but conceivably it might be
originally euphemistic for "bloody". "Old Billy" is given as meaning
"the Devil" in the Cassell dictionary but I don't know that it has
any such meaning outside  the construction "like old Billy" (= "like
billy-hell" etc.).

As for the "Ned", maybe from "Old Ned" = "Old Nick" = "the Devil", or
maybe from "[-be-dam]ned".

-- Doug Wilson

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