Host Garrison Keillor answers your questions about life, love, writing, authors, and of course, A Prairie Home Companion.
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April 17, 2008 |
Mr. Keillor -
Our company down here in East Texas recently hired a nice young lady from North Dakota who recently graduated from college. She often uses the term "Holy Buckets" in conversation. She seems to use this phrase when trying to express surprise at an interesting or alarming fact or comment made by the person with whom she is conversing. Can you explain the origin and meaning of this phrase? We are not sure if it is a mild profanity or a religious exclamation.
I haven't heard Holy Buckets in years and I wonder if the young lady might come from a linguistic pocket in North Dakota where this and perhaps other archaic expressions linger on—Jeepers Creeper, Glorioso, Leaping Lizards, etc. Probably she had a beloved old grandpa who used the phrase and the child picked it up. The phrase originally referred to a sudden downpour—raining "buckets" —which, to most people, represents good luck, and so it's not a profanity—it's an expression of surprise at a (possibly) good thing. So I'd imagine the young lady finds it exciting to be in your company.