Like the dickens


What's the meaning of the phrase 'Like the dickens'?

A lot; as in ‘hurts Like the dickens’.

What's the origin of the phrase 'Like the dickens'?

This phrase has nothing to do with Charles Dickens. Dickens is a euphemism, specifically a minced-oath, for the word devil, possibly via devilkins.

Shakespeare used ‘dickens’ in ‘the Merry Wives of Windsor, 1600:

I cannot tell what the dickens his name is my husband had him of.

See other phrases and sayings from Shakespeare.

See also: What the dickens.

Trend of like the dickens in printed material over time

Gary Martin is a writer and researcher on the origins of phrases and the creator of the Phrase Finder website. Over the past 26 years more than 700 million of his pages have been downloaded by readers. He is one of the most popular and trusted sources of information on phrases and idioms.

Gary Martin

Writer and researcher on the origins of phrases and the creator of the Phrase Finder website. Over the past 26 years more than 700 million of his pages have been downloaded by readers. He is one of the most popular and trusted sources of information on phrases and idioms.