The Origins of "Goody-Two Shoes" - P.O.W. Report

Sunday, September 16, 2018

The Origins of "Goody-Two Shoes"


goody two shoes (plural goody two shoes)

(derogatory) A goody-goody; a person who is exceptionally good and perhaps self-satisfied.

The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes is a children's story published by John Newbery in London in 1765. The story popularized the phrase "goody two-shoes", often used to describe an excessively virtuous person, a do-gooder.[1]

Goody Two-Shoes is a variation of the Cinderella story. The fable tells of Goody Two-Shoes, the nickname of a poor orphan girl named Margery Meanwell, who goes through life with only one shoe. When a rich gentleman gives her a complete pair, she is so happy that she tells everyone she has "two shoes". Later, Margery becomes a teacher and marries a rich widower. This earning of wealth serves as proof that her virtuousness has been rewarded, a popular theme in children's literature of the era

Although The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes is credited with popularizing the term "goody two-shoes", the actual origin of the phrase is unknown. For example, it appears a century earlier in Charles Cotton's Voyage to Ireland in Burlesque (1670):[5]

Mistress mayoress complained that the pottage was cold;
'And all long of your fiddle-faddle,' quoth she.
'Why, then, Goody Two-shoes, what if it be?
Hold you, if you can, your tittle-tattle,' quoth he.

The name is used herein to point out the mayoress' comparative privilege; "Goody" (a corruption of "Goodwife"),[6] being the equivalent of "Mrs." and "Two-shoes", implicitly comparing her to people who have no shoes. [Read More]

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