I'll swan to goodness

Posted by R. Berg on December 28, 2002

In Reply to: I'll swan to goodness posted by John Green on December 27, 2002

: a lot of my texas relatives use the phrase which means " We'll I'll be". Any ideas as to what it refers to?

Ultimately, it's a Minced oath (a way of suggesting a curse without actually cursing) meaning "I swear to God."

The Oxford English Dictionary has "swan" as a verb, labeled U.S. slang, derived probably (it says) from northern England dialectal "Is' wan," literally "I shall warrant" = I'll be bound; later taken as a mincing substitute for "swear." The first use in print recorded in the dictionary is from the year 1823.