From the passage in the book where Bill gets into Derry and is riding a cab to meet Mike I believe, the phrase "Bowers and Huggins and Criss, oh my!" stood out to me:

As the cab moved slowly down Main Street (we're over the Canal now, Bill thought; can't see it, but it's down there, running in the dark) and then turned up Center, his first thought was predictable enough: how much had changed. But the predictable thought was accompanied by a deep dismay that he never would have expected. He remembered his childhood here as a fearful, nervous time ... not only because of the summer of '58, when the seven of them had faced the terror, but because of George's death, the deep dream his parents seemed to have fallen into following that death, the constant ragging about his stutter, Bowers and Huggins and Criss constantly on the prod for them after the rockfight in the Barrens

(Bowers and Huggins and Criss, oh my! Bowers and Huggins and Criss, oh my!)

and just a feeling that Derry was cold, that Derry was hard, that Derry didn't give a shit if any of them lived or died, and certainly not if they triumphed over Pennywise the Clown. Derryfolk had lived with Pennywise in all his guises for a long time ... and maybe, in some mad way, they had even come to understand him. To like him, need him. Love him? Maybe. Yes, maybe that too.

I am just briefly dipping my toes in literature and was wondering if you guys have encountered phrases similar to that of the title in question? Is there a specific name to this archetype? Have other authors before King used a similar phrase, with different names/nouns perhaps? Wonder if it's coincidence but I've been seeing this more and more lately. Wonder if I notice it more often now having read/listened to 'IT'.


1 Answer 1


Phrases of the form "something and something and something, oh my!" are fairly widespread as a sort of meme (or snowclone) originating from the classic 1939 film The Wizard of Oz:

Lions and Tigers and Bears, oh my! (Youtube link)

It's discussed, with many variants listed, at the Snowclones Database, and lambasted at the Madam Grammar blog. In the context of this passage in It, Bowers and Huggins and Criss are bullies constantly after Bill ("on the prod"), so that he was "fearful" and "nervous", rather like Dorothy at the thought of lions and tigers and bears in The Wizard of Oz.

  • I've also seen this snowclone (phrase template) around a fair bit, but never knew where it came from before. Thanks for inspiring me to find out :-)
    – Rand al'Thor
    Mar 13, 2020 at 20:08
  • Thanks @Rand al'Thor, your answer is spot on. I had no idea this was part of the Wizard of Oz or that there were specific words to reference phrasal templates. Much obliged!!!!!
    – irosh
    Mar 16, 2020 at 18:52

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