Posted by Smokey Stover on April 22, 2006
In Reply to: "Hot little hands" posted by antiquary on April 22, 2006
: : Does anyone know the origin behind the phrase "hot little hands"? (As in 'I want that paper in my hot little hands by morning.')
: : Thanks so much.
: It seems to turn up first in Victorian fiction. The earliest use of it that I've come across is in a short story called "Self-Control", by Mrs Mary Jane Phillips, published in the December 1857 number of The Ladies' Repository: '"Poor little fellow!" I murmured, and stooped to kiss his fevered cheek, but just then he threw his hot little hands upward, exclaiming, "O don't, mamma, Feddy didn't mean to!"'. Elizabeth Gaskell's 1863 very popular novel "Sylvia's Lovers" has this: 'Sylvia sate down on the edge of the trough, and dipped her hot little hand in the water'.
Excellent, Antiquary, well found. In Stephanie's quotation, and in most other modern uses, the phrase is used humorously, a bit sarcastically, referring back to the goody-goody, too-sweet usage in examples like those educed by Antiquary. SS