Posted by ESC on August 05, 2001
In Reply to: No Better Than She Should Be? posted by Dianne DeSha on August 05, 2001
: Hi! I stumbled on this forum while looking for something else entirely and thought I'd take the opportunity to ask after a phrase I've been wondering about for years: that a woman is "no better than she should be" (or "ought to be"), meaning, essentially, that she's of very loose sexual morals.
: (I found the pharse in the archive search, but not in the explanations list. If that means it's been asked and no one knows, then pardon the intrusion of an ignorant newbie!)
: Any enlightenment you can spare?
NO BETTER THAN SHE SHOULD BE - "An early-18th-century translation by Peter Motteux of 'Don Quixote' is the first to record this classic understatement, meaning 'an immoral woman.' Whether it was coined at this time no one knows." From "Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins" by Robert Hendrickson (Facts on File, New York, 1997).
I've never heard this expression in the U.S. But I've come across the phrase frequently in the British murder mysteries of which I am so fond.