Goody two-shoes
Feb 24, 2014 | 1462 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
THE EXPRESSION: “Goody two-shoes” is often used to refer to someone as a self-righteous and smugly virtuous person. This was not its intended use when used in a children’s nursery tale entitled: “The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes,” published in 1765. Oliver Goldsmith has been credited as its author, but some question as to whether he was its author. The expression being used in that tale popularized it, but its actual origin is unknown. It was used a century before that by Charles Cotton in “Voyage to Ireland in Burlesque,” in 1670. He used it as:

“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,’ quote he.”

It seems Charles Cotton used “goody two-shoes” in the manner it is usually used today of a smug virtuous, do-gooder. In contrast in “The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes” a young girl is portrayed similar to the more familiar “Cinderella” story for children. “Goody Two-Shoes” is a name given unto a poor orphan girl named Margery Meanwell. Because she and her brother are left orphans they had very little earthly possessions. Both their parents had died. Two villains had been responsible of bringing their father down to poverty. She only had one shoe until a rich man gave her two new shoes. Margery took pride in her shoes and went around showing them to everyone; saying, “I have two shoes.” She then obtained the nickname of “Goody two-shoes.” The term “Goody,” during that period of time was not making fun of a person, but was often used of married women in depicting them as good wives. In the story she became a teacher and marries a rich widower. Thus, it is used to show being virtuous is rewarded. It became a popular tale in children’s literature.

Dub Mowery is a Gospel preacher in the Church of Christ. A native of Southeast Oklahoma, he is the author of Colloquial Sayings & Expressions (Morris Publishing, 2008)
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