What the dickens


      • express surprise or shock
        To show astonishment or disbelief in a situation or statement

      • emphasize something
        To give emphasis to a point or statement

    Examples of What the dickens

    • While trying to find the perfect gift for her friend's birthday, Sarah stumbled upon a store she had never seen before. The place was chaotic and overwhelming, with shelves crammed full of bizarre and unusual items. Sarah exclaimed, "What the dickens is going on here?!"

      The idiom "What the dickens" is a way of expressing surprise, shock, or confusion. In Sarah's case, she was surprised by the unusual and chaotic store, and didn't know how to explain or describe it, so she used this idiom. The phrase "What the dickens" originated from a character named Dickens in Charles Dickens' novel "The Pickwick Papers" in the 19th century. It was a way of saying "What the heck" or "What the devil" in a more socially acceptable way during that time.

    • "What the dickens is taking her so long?"

      This idiom means "What on earth is causing her to take so long?" "Dickens" was the surname of the famous 19th century English writer Charles Dickens. This idiom is used to express surprise or confusion at someone's unexplained tardiness.

    • "What the dickens are those strange noises coming from the attic?"

      This expression means "What on earth are those unusual sounds coming from the attic?" It is used to convey surprise or curiosity in response to an unexpected or mysterious noise.

    • "What the dickens happened to my car?"

      This idiom is used when someone is puzzled or perplexed as to what has happened to their vehicle. It asks, "What on earth has caused this to occur to my car?"

    • "What the dickens is going on here?"

      This expression is used when someone is bewildered or puzzled by the circumstances surrounding them. It questions, "What on earth is happening here?"

    • "What the dickens is going on here?"

      This is a classic example of the idiom "what the dickens." It's used to express shock, surprise, or confusion. In this example, the speaker is asking what is happening because they are surprised or confused by the situation. The phrase "what the dickens" is replaced with other expletives like "What the heck!" or "What the devil!" but "what the dickens" is a more traditional and formal expression.

    • "I can't believe what the dickens she just said!"

      In this example, the speaker is again using the idiom to express surprise or disbelief at what someone has said. They're essentially asking "what the dickens" is the meaning of those unexpected or surprising words.

    • "I've been looking for that blasted thing for what feels like what the dickens!"

      This example uses the idiom to express frustration or annoyance. The speaker is tired of searching for something that seems to have been lost forever (blasted thing). They're asking what the dickens has happened, implying that the time spent looking for the item seems to be never-ending.


    The idiom "What the dickens" is a versatile phrase that can be used to express surprise or shock in a situation, as well as to emphasize a point or statement. It is often used in informal conversations to show astonishment or to give emphasis to a particular topic.

    Origin of "What the dickens"

    The origin of the idiom "What the dickens" can be traced back to the works of William Shakespeare. In his play "The Merry Wives of Windsor," the character Mrs. Page exclaims, "I cannot tell what the dickens his name is." The term "dickens" was used as a euphemism for the devil or an evil spirit in the 16th century, and over time, it evolved to become a mild oath or expression of surprise. The idiom became popular due to its use in literature and has since been integrated into everyday language as a way to express astonishment or emphasize a point.