I'm blest if I ain't blowed,

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Senior Member
Bobbie unrolled the brown paper and disclosed the toy engine.
"I thought," she said wistfully, "that perhaps you'd mend this for me—because you're an engineer, you know."
The engine-driver said he was blowed if he wasn't blest.
"I'm blest if I ain't blowed,
" remarked the fireman

From Nesbit's 'The Railway Children'. I understand from this link, (Well,) I'll be blowed!, that the driver's sentence means that he is surprised. But, the fireman's phrase is reversed! Does it mean the same as what his friend is saying? Please, shed a light on these phrases.
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    Yes. The original oath used 'damned' (I'll be damned if I'm doing that, etc.), which got euphemistically changed to 'blessed', and then to another bl-word, 'blowed'. It's all extended use of once strong oaths, now much weakened. It's not entirely clear what the driver and fireman would have said if children hadn't been present. I think, these being E. Nesbit drivers and firemen and quite nice really, underneath their gruffness, they would probably have still combined harmless words like this.

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    "I'm blessed" and "I'll be blowed" were both common expressions of surprise for much of the twentieth century in Britain, often preceded with "well". Here we have a rather entertaining variation on both phrases.

    Following your recent questions about The Railway Children I read the book myself yesterday (I don't recall ever having read the full thing before) and I am very impressed with Nesbit's ear for spoken language. The quiet introduction of "ain't" into the dialogue is delightful, especially when she gets Bobbie to use the word as well. "Ain't" was probably familiar to all children at the time (it has a very long history), but middle class children like Bobbie would have been told off if they were ever heard using it.


    Senior Member
    English - England
    "I'm blest if I ain't blowed," = I would be astonished if I were not amazed [I am not astonished and, naturally, I am amazed.] -> The situation would amaze anyone.

    A: "You are sweating!"
    B: "I would be astonished if I were not sweating. I have been working hard." [The obvious implication is that he has been working hard, and hard work makes you sweat. Therefore it is natural that he should sweat.]
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