Posted by James Briggs on December 18, 2001
In Reply to: Hurts like the dickens posted by R. Berg on December 18, 2001
: : My son said this at supper tonight........."It hurt like the Dickens". We wondered if any one knows the origin? I have also heard "scared the dickens out of me". Any enlightenment would be appreciated.
: From the archives, here's a response to the same question.
: Posted by ESC on January 12, 2001:
: "Dickens" is a euphemism for "devil" as in "'what the dickens,'.an expression common centuries before Charles Dickens was born, having been used by Shakespeare in 'The Merry Wives of Windsor'." "Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins" by William and Mary Morris (HarperCollins, New York, 1977, 1988).
It may be an altered pronunciation of "devilkin"