hells bells origin

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hells bells origin

Post by Archived Topic » Sat Jul 24, 2004 2:25 pm

Hello,

I know there's the song from. . . maybe WWI? Is this possibly the origin of the expression "hells bells"?
Or did the phrase have to do with factory bells?

Here's the song by the way -- (and isn't there some Irish play in which it was sung?)
The bells of hell go ting-a-ling-a-ling
For you but not for me:
And the little devils how they sing-a-ling-a-ling
For you but not for me.
O death, where is thy sting-a-ling-a-ling,
O Grave, thy victor-ee?
The bells of hell go ting-a-ling-a-ling,
For you but not for me.

Kate in CT/USA
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hells bells origin

Post by Archived Reply » Sat Jul 24, 2004 2:39 pm

and what's with the double spacing? Sorry the short message looks so very long.
Kate, again
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hells bells origin

Post by Archived Reply » Sat Jul 24, 2004 2:53 pm

Hi Kate, I like the song. The double spacing is one of the peculiarities of the website. As far as I can tell, when you put in short noncontiguous sentences, as in poetry or song lyrics, they become double spaced when they get transferred to the website. Don’t know if there is a good reason why or if there is a way around it.

“Hell’s bells” has at least five different meanings, only two of which I was previously familiar with and which are current. Also appears to me that the song you cited is not the source of any of them. The 1819 quote (see below) is the oldest usage I found for the ‘headlong/speedy’ definition, and the 1832 one for the mild oath. Also note the discrepancy in dates for the same expression [clear (to me) – if there is doubt – RHDAS is the one to be believed (can’t argue too much with their documented quotes)]. And as far as the difference between an exclamation and an interjection, well, . . .

Note: double bracketed [[ ]] remarks (below) are my own
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HELL’S BELLS interjection (used to express irritation or incredulity [[a mild oath]]), 1832 from ‘Legends & Stories’ by Lover: “They all swore out, ‘HELLS BELLS attind your berrin’. . . you vagabone.” — Random House Dictionary of American Slang (RHDAS)
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HELL’S BELLS, informal, (used to indicate vexation or surprise [1910–15] — Random House (RH) Unabridged Dictionary
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HELL’S BELLS/FIRE!/ TEETH! Exclamation [1920s and still in use] a general mild exclamation usually implying irritation or disappointment. — Cassell’s Dictionary of Slang
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HELL’S BELLS noun [mid-late 19th century] ‘the daylights,’ ‘the stuffings,’ as in “I’ll knock hell’s bells out of you!’ 1886 from ‘Old Actor’ by Leman – refers to 1863: “Leman, old boy, I’m sorry to hurt your feelings, but we’ve got great news from Vicksburg, and Pemberton’s knocked H–—L’S BELLS out of Grant’s wheel-houses.” —Cassell’s and RHDAS
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HELL’S BELLS noun [1980s] (U.S. campus) somewhere considered very far away [cf. ‘behind God’s back’] [[or as we used to say in NYC ‘Timbuktu’ or ‘Oshkosh’ (Wisconsin seemed pretty far away at the time]] — Cassell’s
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LIKE HELL’S BELL’S adverbial phrase, headlong, at great speed, 1819 from ‘Tom Crib’ by Thomas Moore: ‘These Swells / Are soon to meet. . . To chime together, like HELL’S BELLS.’ — RHDAS
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HELL’S BELLS adverb [1930s and still in us] with great power or speed; headlong, 1930 from ‘Folk-Say’: ‘The wind [was] just blowin HELL’S BELLS out of the west.’ — RHDAS and Cassell’s
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HELL’S BELLS adjective: rowdy, wild, 1923 from Haunch, Paunch & Jowl: You’ve got a lot of nerve bringing me a lot of sissies to do turns in a HELL’S BELLS spielers’ parlor.
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Ken G (Fort Collins, CO, USA) – December 1, 2002

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hells bells origin

Post by Archived Reply » Sat Jul 24, 2004 3:08 pm

Just noticed that I left two of my ‘oath’ references out.
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Facts on File Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins

HELL’S BELLS! The more colorful curse “hells bells and buckets of blood!” was the original imprecation, which probably originated at sea during the late 19th century, under what circumstances no one knows. [[looks more like early 19the century – see RHDAS 1832 reference above]]
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Chapman’s Dictionary of American Slang

HELL’S BELLS interjection by 1912. An exclamation of impatience, anger, emphasis, etc: ‘HELL’S BELLS, Maude, I did that two whole years ago. [[‘by’ is a very safe word when you’re not sure when!]]
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Ken G – December 1, 2002



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hells bells origin

Post by Archived Reply » Sat Jul 24, 2004 3:22 pm

‘Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable’ adds the following tidbit: Under “hell’s bells” they say see ‘like the clappers.’

LIKE THE CLAPPERS: Very fast; very hard The phrase dates form the 1940s and is a shortening of ‘like the clappers of hell,’ meaning those of ‘hells bells.’
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Ken G – December 1, 2002


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Post by Archived Reply » Sat Jul 24, 2004 3:37 pm

thank you Dr G!
Kate
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Post by Archived Reply » Sat Jul 24, 2004 3:51 pm

The way around the double-spacing
Is to press "shift"
And "enter"
At
The
Same
Time.
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hells bells origin

Post by Archived Reply » Sat Jul 24, 2004 4:05 pm

Oh
No.
It
Isn't.
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hells bells origin

Post by Archived Reply » Sat Jul 24, 2004 4:20 pm

I saw the song referred to above in a t.v. mini-series about WWII RAF pilots flying Spitfires against the Germans, taking off and landing on a nice grassy field in front of a lovely English estate. The story line was okay, but the scenes of the beautifully-restored fighter planes taking off, landing, and doing their aerial manuvers was breath-taking. The song was used in the series and reflected the thoughts that each pilot feels that about the opponents he is up against. The invincibility of youth. "They will burn and die but not me" I think the series was called "A Piece of Cake", but not sure. The expression was used by the fliers after a particualary tough mission... "Nahh... it was a piece of cake!" WCD of Houston
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Post by Archived Reply » Sat Jul 24, 2004 4:34 pm

The Irish play is Brendan Behan's The Quare Fella
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hells bells origin

Post by Archived Reply » Sat Jul 24, 2004 4:49 pm

I own hells bells
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Post by Archived Reply » Sat Jul 24, 2004 5:03 pm

It seems that
it auto double spaces
like they said before
must have something
to do with the
HTML code on the site
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