Goody two shoes

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Fri Feb 28 22:56:35 UTC 2014

Michael Quinion presented an analysis of "Goody two shoes" in an entry
at World Wide Words. In 1765 the oft reprinted work "The History of
Little Goody Two-Shoes" was published in London. "Goody two shoes" was
the nickname of a character.

At the end of the article Michael remarked on an interesting earlier
instance of phrase:

[Begin excerpt]
As an etymological aside, the anonymous author of the original story -
it has been attributed most often to Oliver Goldsmith, though Charles
Lamb and Newbery himself have also been suggested - may not have
invented the expression. A correspondent to Notes and Queries in 1904
pointed out that goody two shoes appears in a burlesque poem by
Charles Cotton, A Voyage to Ireland, of 1694, as a cant term for a
bad-tempered housewife...
[End exerpt]

Below is a note in 1890 asserting that "Goody Two-shoes" was employed in 1670.

Periodical: American Notes and Queries
Date: May 3, 1890
Quote Page 3
Publisher: Westminister Publishing Company, Philadeliphia, Pennsylvania

[Begin excerpt]

The little story of Goody Two-shoes is often ascribed to Goldsmith.
But in Cotton's burlesque, "Voyage to Ireland" (1670), when the poet
was dining with the mayor of Chester:

"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.

Here "Goody Two-shoes" is a nickname, and apparently one of contempt,
bestowed by the husband upon his wife. The quotation shows, at least,
that Goldsmith did not invent the name or title of the little story.
[End excerpt]


On Fri, Feb 28, 2014 at 4:28 PM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: "weenie", the alternative "MacGuffin"? And other movie terms
>               from 1946
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> On Feb 28, 2014, at 1:51 PM, Dan Goncharoff wrote:
>> Why is "goodie" good, but "goodie two-shoes" not so good?...
> "goodie-goodie" isn't so good either.  Too good to be true/too good for one's own good.  Not sure where the two shoes came from, though.
> LH
>> On Thu, Feb 27, 2014 at 5:48 PM, Joel S. Berson <Berson at> wrote:
>>> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
>>> -----------------------
>>> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>>> Poster:       "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET>
>>> Subject:      "weenie", the alternative "MacGuffin"? And other movie terms
>>> from
>>>              1946
>>> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>>> New York Herald Tribune, 20 October 1946 (Sunday), THIS WEEK
>>> magazine, article "Cliff-Hangers", by William Roberts, pp. 15, 26, & 27.
>>> This article about the current process of producing movie serials has
>>> the following:
>>> "The most important element of a serial plot is the 'weenie,' that
>>> is, the object of all the mayhem that takes place from episodes one
>>> to 13.  [Later, the writer indicates that 13 is the last
>>> episode.]  The weenie can be a map, a document, a mine, an oriental
>>> scarab with mystic powers, an invention, or, as in one case, a Nazi
>>> plot to gain control of 'Middle Africa.' To justify the number of
>>> people done to death during the course of the action, the weenie must
>>> have fabulous importance attached to it. It must be the most valuable
>>> map, document, mine, etc., in the world."  P. 26, col. 3.
>>> The weenie has some similarity to the MacGuffin, at least as
>>> explained by Wikipedia: "a plot device in the form of some goal,
>>> desired object, or other motivator that the protagonist pursues,
>>> often with little or no narrative explanation. The specific nature of
>>> a MacGuffin is typically unimportant to the overall plot. The most
>>> common type of MacGuffin is an object, place or person; other types
>>> include money, victory, glory, survival, power, love, or other things
>>> unexplained."
>>> I will not try to analyze the difference, since I am not a recognized
>>> film critic or lexicographer.
>>> "weenie" in this sense is not in OED3.
>>> Other movie terms claimed by the article (p. 27, cols. 2 and 3) are:
>>> "clean heavy": the leading heavy, "the suave, sinister figure behind
>>> the villainy".  Not in OED3 ("heavy", short for "heavy villain", is).
>>> "dirty (or "dog") heavy": "the wretch who performs the strong-arm
>>> thuggery".  Neither is in OED3.
>>>      "dirty heavy": GBooks has several.  One is alleged to be
>>> Collier's Illustrated Weekly - Volume 81 - Page 12 (1928): "In motion
>>> pictures we have light heavies, heavies and dirty heavies, and the
>>> ex-pug of the cauliflower ears and broken nose is usually cast as a
>>> dirty heavy."  Others are 1982, 1989, 1990, 1994.
>>>      "dog heavy": GBooks alleges several.  1947, Billboard - Nov 1,
>>> 1947 - Page 49 ("dirty-dog heavies"; full view); 1952/1954; and 1960s
>>> through 2013.
>>> "goodie" (or "goody"): hero, heroine, or ally.  Not in OED3.  GBooks
>>> has at least 2007 (Take Me to Your Leader), but even with "movies"
>>> added too many to search through.
>>> "cheater-cut":  "the introduction of a few feet of film showing a
>>> hitherto-unnoticed avenue of escape for the intended victim."  Not in
>>> OED3.  GBooks has 1973 (An illustrated glossary of film terms), 1977,
>>> 1979, and a few later, mostly definitions rather than use.
>>> American Notes & Queries - Volume 6 - Page 119 (1946?) appears to
>>> quote from the NYHT article ... or vice versa.  GBooks, snippet.
>>> I can send a PDF to those who wish one. (The article itself is an
>>> amusing take on the production of serials.)
>>> Joel
>>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>>> The American Dialect Society -
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> The American Dialect Society -
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

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