Posted by Gary Martin on January 04, 2001
In Reply to: Make an honest woman of me. posted by R. Hill on January 04, 2001
: I must know the meaning of this saying and its origin. Please help! Thank you in advance!
To marry a woman you have been living with as your wife, so that she no longer needs to lie and pretend she is married.
It originated at a time when such concerns were taken more seriously than now when the phrase is usually used lightheartedly.
Fielding used it in Tom Jones in 1749 - "Miss Nancy was, in vulgar language, soon made an honest woman."
The nature of the quotation implies that the phrase was already in use then.