HDAS negative "good thing."

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Mon Apr 14 02:51:07 UTC 2014

On Sun, Apr 13, 2014 at 9:28 AM, Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at gmail.com>wrote:

> So the "Und." label should be deleted in future editions.
> (Har, as they say, har.)

"Har! Har!" indeed! Dear old Mom wasn't even born till 1913. I was
surprised that there were only two citations for "good thing," given that
it fell so ripplingly from the tongue of my progenitrix. So, I figured that
it must have, at one time, been quite the bee's knees, which motivated me
to Google it. But, there were so many millions of hits for both "good
thing" and "natural good thing," because of their hyper-common use in
theological writings, that it would take a better man than I, Gunga-Jon, to
do the necessary research.

OTOH, I did serendip onto a possible origin in the Biblical proverb,

"He who findeth a wife findeth a _good thing_."

This, perhaps, some random confidence-man was prompted to modify to,

"He who findeth a *chump* findeth a _good thing_."

Looked at from that point of view, "good thing" in the relevant sense
springs semantically fully-formed from the mind.


All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"---a strange complaint to
come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
-Mark Twain

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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