O heavens!

When I was little, some grown-up in my life was prone to saying “Heavens to Betsy!” as an exclamation. I was pretty small and quickly added it to my small repertoire. I’m told it was pretty cute having a little kid exclaim “Heavens to Betsy!” My guess is that I quit doing it as soon as I realized grown-ups thought it was funny. I really didn’t like being laughed at.

I wonder now where this “Heavens to Betsy!” exclamation came from. Who is Betsy? And why does she get the Heavens? It’s not a saying that stuck around. I haven’t heard it in ages.

I think it may be one of a series of phrases that people invented in order to avoid swearing. Most of us don’t work too terribly hard to avoid swearing anymore. Unless we’re in a school, where we try not to exclaim at all. And when we do, we tend to need phrases that begin like swearing so we can correct midstream. Like when we say, “Sh – – – Shells and Macaroni” or “Fu – – Funky Chicken.”
O heavens to Betsy!


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