One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Used for emphasis, or to express annoyance or surprise when asking questions.‘what the dickens is going on?’‘they work like the dickens’
- ‘‘It hurt like the dickens,’ the first-term congressman said.’
- ‘He is in a dickens of a bind, it seems to me, morally, ethically, and legally.’
- ‘On a bad day, the knees and hips that haven't already been replaced hurt like the dickens.’
- ‘And daylilies bloom like the dickens in coastal Southern California, even outflowering roses.’
- ‘This is going to hurt like the dickens, but you'll have to bear with it.’
Late 16th century: a euphemism for ‘devil’, probably a use of the surname Dickens.
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