Heavens to Murgatroyd - Meaning, Origin and Usage

Did your grandma just say "heavens to Murgatroyd" after she saw you for the first time in months? What does she mean? This post unpacks everything you need to know about this idiomatic expression's meaning, origin, and use.


Picture the scene. You're walking to the corner store when you hear gunfire and see two armed criminals race out of the entrance to the shop and into a getaway vehicle before speeding away from the scene of the crime.

The adrenaline and intensity of the situation come as a shock to you, causing a verbal reaction from you. So, what do you say? "Heaven's to Murgatroyd" would be an appropriate idiomatic expression to fit the current situation.

Heaven's to Murgatroyd has a similar meaning to "oh my God," but it's more kid-friendly and less offensive to people that might have a problem with blasphemy. When you're using "heaven's to Murgatroyd" in conversation, you're referring to news or events that take you by surprise.

However, there are various ways to use this term to provide a genuine or sarcastic response to someone or something. For instance, if someone tells you some underwhelming news, you could respond with "heaven's to Murgatroyd” using an underwhelming tone to your voice.

Example Usage

"I lined up the shot on the 18th hole, took my swing, and heaven's to Murgatroyd, I cupped a hole-in-one."

"Did you see how that building went up in flames so fast? Heaven's to Murgatroyd; I hope the people inside are okay."

"Brady goes for the hail Mary in a last-ditch attempt to win the game. Heaven's to Murgatroyd, what a throw and what a catch, the Buccaneers win the Super Bowl!"

"Heaven's to Murgatroyd; I never expected Clarissa to behave like that in front of strangers."


The origin of the idiomatic phrase, "heaven's to Murgatroyd," traces back to the popular TV show, "Snagglepuss." This Hanna-Barbara cartoon from the late 50s featured a pink-panther-Esque character with actor Bert Lahr playing the voice of Snagglepuss in the series.

During the show, the character would use "Heaven's to Murgatroyd" in place of other common phrases at the time, such as "heavens to Betsy." The term also has a similar meaning to "holy cow." While Snagglepuss popularized the phrase, it wasn't its originator.

The phrase first appears in the 1944 movie "Meet the People." One of the characters in the film, played by Bert Lahr, would use the term in the picture long before using it on Snagglepuss.

Murgatroyd is an old English surname with aristocratic heritage. The name translates to "the district leading to the moor," with several characters in the Gilbert and Sullivan opera, "Ruddigore," using the name Murgatroyd.

Phrases Similar to Heavens to Murgatroyd

  • Oh my God.
  • Heavens to Betsy.
  • Holy cow.
  • Wow.

Phrases Opposite to Heavens to Murgatroyd

  • No big deal.
  • Why all the fuss?

What is the Correct Saying?

  • Heavens to Murgatroyd.

Ways People May Say Heavens to Murgatroyd Incorrectly

"Heavens to Murgatroyd" is a positive exclamation of excitement. It can have both negative and positive connotations, depending on the context of the situation calling for the response. You wouldn't use this phrase when commenting on an uneventful situation. The saying also has a history extending back 70-years, and it's not popular in language today. Some of the younger generations might not understand what you're saying.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase Heavens to Murgatroyd

"Heaven's to Murgatroyd" is a colloquial saying from the late 1950s. Therefore, fans of the "Snagglepuss" series will probably understand the term and use it around other people from the baby boomer generation. This idiom describes a surprising or pleasant event that you didn't expect.

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