the dickens

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

See dickens.

Adverb[edit]

the dickens

  1. (euphemistic) The devil.
    She can go to the dickens for what she said.
  2. Used as an intensifier.
    Why the dickens did he do that?
    • a. 1597, Shakespeare, William, The Merry Wives of Windsor, act 3, scene 2, lines 17–19:
      I cannot tell what the dickens his name / is that my husband had him of. What do you call your / knight's name, sirrah?
    • 1918, Burroughs, Edgar Rice, chapter IV, in The Land That Time Forgot:
      "That's it," I exclaimed, "--that's just the taste exactly, though I haven't experienced it since boyhood; but how can water from a flowing stream, taste thus, and what the dickens makes it so warm? It must be at least 70 or 80 Fahrenheit, possibly higher."

Synonyms[edit]

See also[edit]