What Sam Fool Thing Have You Done, For Pete's Sake?

The other day I got to thinking: Where did I get all these "Pete-related" sayings?

"For the love of Pete." 

"For Pete's sake.

"Heavens to Pete."

I've never even known a person named Pete. 

I wonder where these sayings originated?

I had a friend once who told me that when she was a child, she would play with her cousin at her aunt's house. And every time she turned around, her aunt was scolding her cousin for something or other.

"Damn it to hell, Bob!" she said her aunt would yell.

So my friend, as a child, thought that this was his name. "Damn it to hell, Bob!"

Isn't that funny? Poor Bob.

And then there's Sam. Don't think I've ever personally known a "Sam" either.

But I find myself saying: "What Sam fool thing have you done now?"

Who's Sam? Did he get in trouble a lot, like Bob? 

I think back, and I can't recall when I started using these phrases. Heard them from my childhood, more than likely.

Do you have figures of speech that involve people's names? 


  1. Absolutely. I use Heavens To Betsy all the time. I don't know a Betsy either.

  2. Well- I guess the most of them I have heard involve the Lord's name. lol
    It does remind me of my son though- standing outside in FL with the neighbor when an ambulance went flying past. Our neighbor (GRUMPA-the kids called him) said- There goes that damnambulance. For YEARS my son thought the name of that vehicle was damnabulance. lool xo Diana

  3. Haaa! This is funny and so true. We say a lot of things that we wonder "why do we say that?" I always like hearing stories about the origin of phrases! Have a wonderful day Brenda and God Bless!

  4. I forgot about "Heavens to Besty!" I'm going to start using that one!!!

  5. I love your blog and really liked this post thank-you very being here.

  6. I read once that sayings like For Pete's sake were after Saint Peter -- that instead of saying For God's sake or For Christ's sake polite folks substituted Peter's name. It got shortened to Pete. I have no idea if that is true. Seems like if these folks were really polite, they wouldn't need to use poor old Pete's name either!

    My maternal grandma used a lot of old mountain sayings, and one that included a name was, "he was drunker than Cooter Brown." No idea who Cooter was.

  7. I sometimes say, "what in the Sam Hill". Don't know Sam Hill! I use "For Pete's sake", "Bless Pete", "Oh boy", and lots of phrases like these. I imagine that I learned them growing up. I do know a Sam and a Pete, though. Wasn't crazy about either of them. Cute post, Brenda!!

  8. I laughed all through this! it's true.
    I have used for pete's sake a lot too.
    actually I made up my OWN swearing phrase. I have no idea where it came from.
    it just came to me one day when I was very frustrated and I have said it ever since.
    what an odd combination that is.
    but actually... by the time you get to the end of the long phrase... you're not so irritated!
    LOLOL!!! maybe it has a built~in diffuser! :)
    actually now that I think about it I remember my (Scottish) gram saying "great scot!"
    so that might be part of it right there.
    heaven only knows where the cathouse Thursday part comes in! and no. not from personal experience!

  9. I say "Heavens to Betsy" and "Good Grief!". My hubby says "grief is never good, Cynthia", when I say that. So I try to say "Good Gravy" instead. :) very fun post, Brenda.

  10. I love this funny post! I use "What the Sam Hill?" Also "For crying out loud." I'll say "Good grief Charlie Brown." and have no idea where I got that one from. Was it maybe said in one of the Charlie Brown TV shows??

  11. When I was a child I had a neighborhood friend who started almost every sentence with "Hokey Pete!" My mother was always so appalled by it. In my family we couldn't even say heck. So I just KNEW Hokey Pete had to be far worse. It always made me wonder if the Hokey Pokey was okay...

  12. I love this post, Brenda. Reminds me of growing up in England where "cor blimey!" was a common expression of surprise. My Mum would admonish us if we used it because it was derived from "God blind me!"

  13. I always say "For Pete's Sake", even said that when I was just a girl. I do say "Geees Louise" pretty often, don't really know where that came from...funny how we keep saying stuff, and never think about it...till now anyway..(grin)

  14. It would be such fun to find out who all of these people were that we name in these phrases...lol..

  15. Great post Brenda! I often wonder where certain sayings come from. I found this site that tells where tons of old sayings come from http://www.localhistories.org/sayings.html. I don't know if the one's you referred to are in there or not.

    My grandma once said "well, that just throws the rag on the bush for me!" to this day I have no idea what that means but I think about it often! :o)


  16. Not a name but
    What about holy smokes.

  17. "Don't be a dumb Dora". This one is an oldie.

  18. My husband wanted to call a pup we had "dammit". I know he was kidding, but the name brought a lot of jokes about doing it. My go to is Holy Cow. No clue where this came from.


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