Photo courtesy of syntaxoflife

By Katie Habash

“Oh my god, Katie, sometimes you are such a goody-two-shoes!” I have heard this sentence many times – too many times, if you ask me – but up until now I have never bothered to check what the phrase “goody-two-shoes” meant, where it came from, and how was it even spelled?! So I did a little research. The term first emerged from the British nursery tale “The History of Little Goody Two-Shoe” (1765), whose protagonist, a young orphan named Margery Meanwell, is so poor that she owns only one shoe. She receives the nickname “Goody Two Shoes” when she excitedly announces to everyone she meets that she received a complete pair of shoes from a wealthy stranger (assumedly as a reward for her virtuousness):

She ran out to Mrs. Smith as soon as they were put on, and stroking down her ragged Apron thus, cried out, ‘Two Shoes, Mame, see two Shoes’. And so she behaved to all the People she met, and by that Means obtained the Name of ‘Goody Two-Shoes.

So, the term that we have come to know today to describe an annoyingly good person originated from an anonymously-written fairytale about a good, yet slightly annoying, girl… Should I feel insulted?


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