Posted by TheFallen on April 28, 2003
In Reply to: Cross my heart posted by ESC on April 27, 2003
: : What's the origin of "Cross my heart, hope to die"? My friend and I were wondering since it seems so horrible when you really think about it.
: CROSS ONE'S HEART - "The most binding oath of childhood; solemn assurance of truthfulness, usually accompanied by motions of the right hand forming a cross over the general vicinity of the testator's heart. Probably the gesture and its binding nature were originally based upon the familiar Catholic sign of the cross. In my own Protestant childhood in Ohio, and my wife says the same was the case in Massachusetts, the oath was often accompanied by the irreverent doggerel: 'Cross your heart and hope to die, And hope the cat'll spit in your eye." From "2107 Curious Word Origins, Sayings & Expressions from White Elephants to a Song and Dance" by Charles Earle Funk (Galahad Book, New York, 1993).
The British extended version (at least in South East England) is "Cross my heart and hope to die / Stick a needle in my eye". My 8 year old daughter recently came home from school reciting this version, so it's clearly still in playground usage.