What Does Heavens to Betsy Mean?

Heavens to Betsy Meaning

Definition: Oh my goodness!

This is an interjection that shows surprise.

Origin of Heavens to Betsy

The origins of this expression are unclear. It may have originated sometime between the years 1850 and 1914.

Heavens to Betsy is another variation of the phrase for Heaven’s sake, which began as a euphemism for what some considered the blasphemous for God’s sake and for Christ’s sake.

Nowadays, most people consider heavens to Betsy to be old fashioned, and it is not common to use or hear it.

Examples of Heavens to Betsy

heavens to betsy originHere is an example of a math professor using the expression because of something surprising her student did.

Student: Here you go.

Teacher: What’s this?

Student: This is the test. I’m handing it back to you.

Teacher: Why are you handing it back? I just gave it to you a few minutes ago. There’s no way you had time to finish it yet.

Student: Why do you say that? It was easy! It only took me a few minutes to complete it, and I just double-checked it.

Teacher: Heavens to Betsy! No one has ever finished one of my tests that quickly!

heavens to betsy woolIn this example, two friends are discussing what to wear to a party on the weekend.

Monica: I love that dress that you have! You should wear it to the party on Saturday.

Janice: Thanks! I just got it. I was at my grandmother’s house this weekend, and I showed her all the new clothes I got while shopping.

Monica: What did she think? Did she like the dress?

Janice: I don’t think so. I can’t say for sure. She took one look at it, muttered “Heavens to Betsy,” and then left the room.

Monica: Yeah, I see what you mean. It sounds like she wasn’t a big fan.

More Examples

This excerpt is about a governor and an early education bill.

  • During Thursday’s hearing he described some of the aspersions against his bill as “poppycock.” And at another point he exclaimed “Heavens to Betsy.” I wanted to leap to my feet and holler “Balderdash!” but fought the urge. –Great Falls Tribune

The second excerpt is from an article about how one logo looked similar to another. The author uses the expression sarcastically to say that many logos look similar to one another.

  • Heavens to Betsy! It seems our nation’s top military university (and the Nike reps around it) simply used some Photoshop to “steal” the logo of the second-best sports university in Michigan! What do you call that? A gosh-darn travesty, that’s what. I mean, how DARE any colleges or sports teams have similar-looking mascots or logos. –USA Today


Heavens to Betsy is an interjection that people use to express shock or indignation.