what in tarnation

in tarnation?

Used as an intensifier after a question word (who, what, where, when, why, and how) to express extreme confusion, surprise, or aggravation. Primarily heard in US. And just how in tarnation am I supposed to have three reports done by 9 AM tomorrow? Where in tarnation did you find that rusty old car? Who in tarnation is making all that noise?

what in tarnation

An exclamation used to emphasize surprise, shock, anger, disgust, etc. Just what in tarnation is going on here? Aw, what in tarnation! I just had this fixed, and now there's a dent in it! What in tarnation! Don't sneak up on me like that!
See also: tarnation, what
References in periodicals archive ?
What in tarnation was these boys thinkin', putting the fangs out like this on a post-maintenance check flight, not to mention one that gave the crew a hint the aircraft might not be 100 percent in terms of handling ability?
What in tarnation was the BBC thinking when they enlisted the ``help'' of that pair?