An exclamation, in a similar vein to "What the hell?". Derives from popular dead author and dead street fighter Charles Dickens
Person 1: "While you were out I broke into your house and shat in your oven."
Person 2: "What the Dickens?!"
Person 1: "Ol
Dickens is a euphemism for "devil". From Shakespeare's "Merry Wives of Windsor",(Act III, Scene II).
"I cannot tell what the dickens his name is".
(NOT from Charles Dickens.)
What the Dickens?
What the Dickens were you thinking?
Similar in meaning to what the heck, what the hell, etc. Is most commonly used in a a state of puzzlement and awe.
What the Dickens? I could have sworn that the rickshaw was on fire when I left the the East Indian Trading Company!