(informal) a euphemistic word for devilwhat the dickens?
C16: from the name Dickens
Charles (John Huffam), pen name Boz. 1812–70, English novelist, famous for the humour and sympathy of his characterization and his criticism of social injustice. His major works include The Pickwick Papers (1837), Oliver Twist (1839), Nicholas Nickleby (1839), Old Curiosity Shop (1840–41), Martin Chuzzlewit (1844), David Copperfield (1850), Bleak House (1853), Little Dorrit (1857), and Great Expectations (1861)