Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD REFERENCE (www.oxfordreference.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2013. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single entry from a reference work in OR for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 25 January 2020

all my eye and Betty Martin phr. (also all in my eye and Betty, …and Elizabeth Martin, all my eye (and) Betty (Martin), my eye Betty Martin, oh Betty Martin, that's my eye (and Betty Martin)) [ext. of all my eye phr.; Betty Martin herself continues to be a source of controversy. Partridge suspects that she was a late 18C London character and that no record of her exists other than this catchphrase. Jon Bee (1823) and Hotten (1860) refer to the alleged Lat. prayer, Ora pro mihi, beate Martine (‘Pray for me blessed Martin’), i.e. St Martin of Tours, the patron saint of publicans and reformed drunkards. It has yet to be found in any version of the liturgy. Writing in 1914, Dr L.A. Waddell suggests another Latinism, O mihi Britomartis (‘O bring help to me, Britomartis’), referring to the tutelary goddess of Crete. More likely is the idea, proposed in Charles Lee's Memoirs (1805), that there had once been ‘an abandoned woman called Grace’, who, in the late 18C, married a Mr Martin. She became notorious as Betty Martin, and all my eye was apparently among her favourite phrases. A northern version of the phr. has Peggy Martin; while cit. 1959 offers a one-off var.] 

Source:
Green's Dictionary of Slang
Author(s):

Jonathon Green

a phr. meaning utter, absolute nonsense.1780R. TomlinsonSl. Pastoral 9: But now she to Bridewell has punch'd it ...

Access to the complete content on Oxford Reference requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.