Posted by Victoria S Dennis on December 06, 2005
In Reply to: Re: Hells bells and little fishes posted by Smokey Stover on December 06, 2005
: : : : : "Hells bells and little fishes." (Mother was born and raised in London and remember using the phrase; she doesn't know if it has a valid origin or whether she came up with it herself. - she is 96 now) Any help greatly apreciated.
: : : : : My thanks ....
: : : : I'm from the U.S. and have never heard of it. But I'll be using it from now on. I am wondering if "little fishes" refers to the loaves and fishes that Jesus used to feed the multitudes.
: : : It's certainly a phrase that I was brought up with. It's still current, but not common. I have no idea of the origin.
: : : There's another similar 'hells bells and little bodkins'. Again, no idea where this came from.
: : : A Google search shows many variants. http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=%22hells+bells+and%22&btnG=Google+Search
: : My mother used to use "and little fishes" too. 1930s Home-counties upbringing.
: : L
: ESC's testimony we can take to mean that in West Virginia and Kentucky the complete phrase was uncomnon or not heard. But I've heard it often in the U.S. where I've lived (northeast). Currently only "Hell's bells" remains common, without the little fishes. I wouldn't be surprised, however, if someone were to report that the little fishes are alive and well in his/her part of the country.
Growing up in the UK, I heard both "Hell's bells!" and "Ye gods and little fishes!" It looks as though Lewis's mother either knew someone who had combined the two, or has run two separate memories together in her mind. Lewis, try "Ye gods and little fishes" on your mother and ask her if that rings a bell. And do report back to us!(VSD)