What the Devil is Sam Hill?

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What in Sam Hill?

What about What in Bruces Country Market as a new phrase to use.
Great article, brought back so many memories of my mom...and of your childhood. Of course, we never thought you were listening and learning those phrases or we would have tried to stop using them...so funny!

Kathleen McEachern more than 7 years ago

Sam Hill

I don't know anything about significance of same, but will send you a pic of the nearby 'Sam Hill Creek'. I always think of it as 'Where the Sam Hill Creek are we?!?"

Heidi Greco more than 7 years ago

Sam Hill

I would assume that it's derived from "what in hell?" with "Sam Hill" considered as a humorous (and possibly apt) substitute. This is not an uncommon ancestry for mild oaths; on the mother's side a harmless word or phrase that nevertheless expresses something of the intended surprise, disdain, etc; and on the father's side a soundalike euphemism for something stronger. (Compare the more recent "freaking" as in "It was so freakin' cold, we went right back indoors!")
I do wonder also whether the original euphemism was "Sam Hall". A certain Jack Hall was executed in 1707, and the ballad written about his execution survived long enough after he was forgotten that somebody took the liberty of changing his name to "Sam", around 1850 (see the Wikipedia entry "Sam Hall (song)".)
The song is still alive, and has been recorded by Johnny Cash, the Irish Descendants, and others. Worldwide, it is probably much better known than Mr Hill's store.

Robert Dawson more than 7 years ago

What the Devil is Sam Hill?

Hey, great article Becky! I must confess that I've used many expressions that your grandmother used...heard 'em from my parents I guess! Sam Hill isn't one I've used much but heard it growing up. How fascinating to read your research on just who Sam was and his mercantile's claim to fame. "What in Walmart" sounds like a great one to try out!

Margaret Jones more than 7 years ago



Why does our boss at the restaurant tell us wait staff never to say “No problem” to customers? 

—Wait staff at an otherwise great eatery

Read the answer from Geist Editors!