For heaven’s sake

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By the normal rules of grammar, for heaven’s sake should have a possessive heaven’s and a singular sake. But this is the sort of colloquial expression that tends to flout the usual rules, and alternative forms such as for heavens sake, for heaven sakes, for heaven’s sakes, for heavens’ sake, for heavens’ sakes, and for heavens sakes appear often.


The grammatically questionable versions are common—for example:

Momsen’s 17, for heaven’s sakes! [AV Club]

If the city fathers can’t recognize lies, cheats and extortions in and around their own playhouse, then for heaven sakes kick them out of office. [letter to The Ledger]

But this is William Hague, for heavens sake. []

[A]nd US life expectancy is 42nd in the world, well behind most rich nations, after Chile (35th) and, for heavens sakes, even Cuba (37th). [Forbes]

But the grammatically sound form tends to appear in carefully edited publications—for example:

There is a Foodie in the White House, for heaven’s sake. [Boston Globe]

But this is the Oscars, for heaven’s sake. [Washington Post]