+0
I just wondering what does "great balls of fire" mean in idioms? I'd be appreciate if anyone could tell me!
Comments  
I don't think it is really an idiom. It is a line from a rock and roll song, 'Goodness Gracious! Great Balls of Fire! Quite what it means is anyone's guess.
Thanks! But I had seen it been said several times in movies!
Site Hint: Check out our list of pronunciation videos.
Perhaps they are just quoting the song. It has become a sort of comedy exclamation.
Hello Gecks

I'd agree with Nona. I think the 'balls' aspect now predominates.

The phrase does seem to have an interesting history, though. In a scene in
'Gone with the Wind' (1939), set during the American Civil War, Scarlett O'Hara
(to the horror of Mammy) proposes making a new dress from the portières
(= curtains). "Not out of Miss Ellen's portières!" protests Mammy. "Not while
I've got breath in my body!" To which Scarlett replies: "Great balls of fire!
They're my portières now!"

Various 'GWTW' fansites suggest that GBOF is an authentic southern US phrase
(like 'fiddle-dee-dee!'), from around the time of the Civil War (1861-5). It seems to
follow the pattern of other ejaculations, e.g. 'Great Scott!' 'Great Heavens!' etc. I
wonder whether it's a reference to St Elmo's fire, or to ball lightning (Merriam-Webster:
"a rare form of lightning consisting of luminous balls that may move along solid objects or
float in the air").

Or perhaps as there's an Apocalyptic reference hidden in there somewhere - though I
can't find a reference to 'balls of fire' in the Old or New Testaments. Maybe someone else
would know.

Regarding Jerry Lee Lewis, some websites suggest that the song relates to his impending
marriage to his cousin:

I cut my nails and I quiver my thumb
I'm real nervous 'cause it sure is fun
Come on baby, you drive me crazy
Goodness gracious great balls of fire...

If this isn't an innuendo, it's certainly a good imitation of one. Just what 'quiver my thumb'
means is anybody's guess. But the song was written by Otis Blackwell, so the most we
can probably say is that the song had 'resonance' for JLL at that time...

Interesting to note that the song was released (1957) during the big UFO panics of the
1950s, when 'balls of fire' (sic) were regularly reported in US airspace. (Billy Lee
Riley's second release for Sun Records, shortly before JLL's hit, was
'Flying Saucers Rock 'n' Roll'.)

MrP
Great Balls of Fire came from the movie The Wizard of Oz when he had to great balls of fire app
Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
Anonymous when he had to great balls of fire app
I can't seem to remember that part. Emotion: thinking
GBOF was also used by southern hillbillies in the old cartoons. Hatfield an mccoys cartoons. Ah ah ah great balls of fire .... Something after i don't understand. Sounds like ammodation