Sam Hill » Sand Hill
Spotted in the wild:
- “… for there are enough scrapped lottery slips and scratch-off cards accumulating along it to make one wonder just what in the Sand Hill is going on. … “ (link)
- “Were are you?!? (Edd gets off the ride and finds Ed in Tommorrowland , building something) Edd:ED,WHAT IN SAND HILL ARE YOU DOING ????? … “ (link)
- “… threw the middle like a clown tears thru a cow’s 4th stomach, which exploded the asteroid faster than you could say “What the sand hill is that thing?” “ (link)
Suggested to me by Roger Shuy on 18 May 2005, who even supplied a photograph (from an acquaintance) of a sandhill crane, with the caption “What in the Sand Hill is going on here?”
A reshaping of the utterly opaque “Sam Hill” expressions is entirely natural. Still, the numbers from a Google web search are small:
“what in the Sand Hill”: ca. 91
“what in Sand Hill”: 4
“what the Sand Hill”: 2
(I’ve removed references to Silicon Valley’s Sand Hill Road, home to venture capitalists and the Stanford Linear Accelerator.)
“what in the Sam Hill”: ca.832
“what in Sam Hill”: ca. 685
“what the Sam Hill”: ca. 642
(though a fair number of these cites are mentions of the expressions, not uses of them).
As for the “Sam Hill” originals, Michael Quinion’s World Wide Words concludes: “The expression has been known since the late 1830s. Despite the story [about a Connecticut politician named Sam Hill], it seems to be no more than a personalised euphemism for “hell”.” (www.worldwidewords.org/qa…). The euphemism source is supported by the odd syntax of “Sam Hill”, occurring (like “hell”) with “what in the”, “what in”, and “what the”.