Damn your eyes
Posted by Smokey Stover on July 06, 2008 at 06:04
In Reply to: Damn your eyes posted by ESC on July 05, 2008 at 13:29:
: : : I'm reading a nautical series and have questions regarding two phrases (origin, meaning, etc.) "My arse on a band box" and "Damn your eyes".
: : A bandbox is a hat box. If that helps.
: Damn your eyes is in the archives:
: www.phrases.org.uk bulletin_board 1 messages 2661.html
I'd like to add what the Oxford English Dictionary has to say:
"Also, damn (one's) eyes!, used as an abusive expression."
The OED doesn't mention a nautical origin, but doesn't specifically rule it out. Among the quotations that it gives of this phrase are these two:
"1761 STERNE Tr. Shandy III. xii. 64 From the great and tremendous oath of William the Conqueror, (By the splendour of God) down to the lowest oath of a scavenger, (Damn your eyes). . . 1850 H. MELVILLE White Jacket II. xxvi. 170 What man-of-war's-men call a damn-my-eyes-tar, that is, a humbug. And many damn-my-eyes humbugs there are in this man-of-war world of ours. . . ."
"Ny arse on a band box" is probably one of those phrases that has been expanded to give more body to the essential phrase, which in this case would be "My arse!" The addition of the band box is just to lend substance and color, like "Ye cats and little fishes," or "Christ on a Chris-craft" (of American origin, obviously.
The OED describes "my arse!" as equivalent to my foot, nonsense, like hell, or other phrases "expressing dismissive or incredulous contradiction, esp. as a scornful rejection of another's stated opinions. . . ."