Heavens to Murgatroyd | Meaning

Have you heard someone exclaim with this phrase, “Heavens to Murgatroyd” and thought about what it means?

This is a very old expression you’ll hear more commonly with the older pals, probably your parents or grandparents, and their mates.

If you don’t know what it means, this article is for you. In this blog post, I’ll be explaining the meaning of “Heavens to Murgatroyd” and its origin.

Ultimately, you’ll know the synonyms of this expression.

What Does “Heavens to Murgatroyd” Mean?

“Heavens to Murgatroyd” is an expression that indicates surprise or shock. It’s similar to “Oh my goodness,” “Oh my God” and the like.

For example, you’re together with friends talking and laughing, and suddenly a vehicle loses control and almost runs into the group.

This scene is going to shock the hell out of you, probably leading you to exclaim loudly. The appropriate exclamation in this case is, “Heavens to Murgatroyd” just like you’d say, “Oh my God.”

Additionally, using this phrase in a conversation shows you’re shocked at what the speaker is saying to you. You can also use it to express exasperation or frustration. 

For instance, if your friend tells you she’s yet to order the cake you asked her to, you could use “Heavens to Murgatroyd” to express your frustration.

Furthermore, you can use this idiom sarcastically to express yourself.

Below is how to use this expression:

  • A- I left my keys at home, there’s no way we’re going to get into the office early
  • B-“Heavens to Murgatroyd! What are we going to do now?”
  • Heavens to Murgatroyd! I just saw Ben from high school
  • I left Jennie for a minute and heavens to Murgatroyd, she had consumed the whole food

Where Did the Phrase, “Heavens to Murgatroyd Come From?”

“Heavens to Murgatroyd” is an American phrase that was popularized by the popular TV show, “Snagglepuss,” a part of the Yogi Bear show of 1960.

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The pink cartoon character, “Snagglepuss” used the phrase to express disbelief. He was also popular for the catchphrase, “Exit, stage left.”

This phrase means the same as “Heavens to Betsy,” which is a much earlier expression.

However, while the Snagglepuss character popularized the phrase, “Heavens to Murgatroyd,” it wasn’t the originator.

Also, the Ohio newspaper in 1961 used this expression in the Akron Beacon Journal, advertising a ranch for sale. 

There are other earlier uses of this expression. For instance, there have been claims that Bert Lahr’s character in the 1944 movie, “Meet the People,” used the expression.

However, etymologists have been unable to trace the real origin of the idiomatic expression, and they debunk Bert Lahr’s character as the originator.

10 “Heavens to Murgatroyd” Synonyms

There are various synonyms for the expression, “Heavens to Murgatroyd.” As I’ve previously stated, this expression is used to express surprise, disbelief, and excitement and frustration.

So, expressions like “Heavens to Betsy,” “Oh my goodness,” “Dear me,” and “Wow! are good examples.

Here are 10 alternative phrases to “Heavens to Murgatroyd.”

  1. Heavens to Betsy
  2. Oh my goodness
  3. Wow!
  4. Dear me
  5. Dear Lord
  6. Goodness gracious
  7. Oh my God 
  8. Color me surprised 
  9. Christ on a bike
  10. For heaven’s sake

Heavens to Betsy

Heavens to Murgatroyd- Meaning

“Heavens to Betsy” is another old American phrase that expresses surprise, disbelief, or disdain.

It was originally used as a polite replacement to the term for ‘Christ’s sake’ or ‘God’s sake,’ since they were considered blasphemous.

Just like “Heavens to Murgatroyd,” this phrase isn’t very popular now.

Here’s how to use the expression:

  • Heavens to Betsy! Who could have done this?
  • Heavens to Betsy! Will you quit whining?
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Oh My Goodness 

“Oh, my goodness” is a popular expression that indicates surprise, shock, or frustration. This one is quite common these days, and you can use it on an informal occasion to show your surprise.

  • Oh my goodness! I did it, Mum. I made first class
  • Oh my goodness! Rihanna just followed me on IG 


“Wow!” is a simple expression of surprise. It’s another popular way to show your shock or amazement at hearing some news or witnessing something surprising. 

Also, “Wow” is an informal expression that indicates excitement about something. However, this exclamation can also find its way into a formal environment.

Here’s how to use the expression:

  • Wow! I love your presentation
  • Wow! You were amazing up there

Dear Me 

Heavens to Murgatroyd- Meaning

“Dear me” is another expression you use when you’re taken by surprise. It’s an informal way to express your disbelief or shock about something.

Here’s an example:

  • Dear me, I forgot to take my drugs again
  • Dear me, What do we do about Jenny’s hair?

Dear Lord

“Dear Lord” is a variant of “Dear me.” It’s another way to show you’re surprised or frustrated at something.

Here’s an example:

  • Dear Lord! When did you arrive?
  • Dear Lord, I can’t believe I’m going to start all over again 

Goodness Gracious

Another expression you can use as an alternative to “Heavens to Murgatroyd” is “Goodness gracious!”

This is an exclamation of surprise, excitement, or annoyance. 

Here’s an example:

  • Goodness gracious! I almost ran into her
  • Goodness gracious! You keep talking and I’ll stick this pen into your eyes

Oh My God 

“Oh my God” is another exclamation of surprise you can use to replace “Heavens to Murgatroyd.”

Also, you can use the phrase to express excitement and annoyance.

Here’s an example:

  • A- I was chosen for the next stage of the competition 
  • B- oh my God! This calls for celebration
  • Oh my God! Oh no! The teacher is coming. What do we do?
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Color Me Surprised

“Color me surprised” is an informal phrase that expresses surprise. It has several variants like, ‘color me confused’ and ‘color me embarrassed’ that express confusion and embarrassment respectively.

It’s an old American phrase that’s commonly used when we hear or see something we’re not expecting.

Here’s an example:

  • A- I met John at the mall today. He looked so huge and handsome
  • B- Really? Color me surprised! The last I heard, he was out of town with the girls 
  • A- Dad left for work and forgot his phone
  • B- Color me surprised! That phone is always in his work bag 

Christ on a Bike

“Christ on a bike” is another expression that can replace “Heavens to Murgatroyd.”

It’s a funny variation of ‘Jesus Christ’ or ‘Christ alive,’ used to express surprise or shock; when you receive news or see something that you were not expecting.

However, some people consider this expression blasphemous.

Here’s an example:

  • Christ on a bike! When did you return?
  • Christ on a bike! You’re getting married!

For Heaven’s Sake

Heavens to Murgatroyd- Meaning

Another exclamation you can use to indicate surprise or frustration is “For heaven’s sake.”

This is an informal way to express frustration at someone or when something isn’t going the way you like. 

Here’s an example:

  • For heaven’s sake! What’s going on here?
  • For heaven’s sake! Would you stop, already?

Final Words 

“Heavens to Murgatroyd” is an idiomatic expression you can use to express shock, surprise, excitement, or frustration. The origin isn’t quite clear, but you can use it in an informal setting.

Also, there are countless alternative expressions you can try.


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