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The Role of the Blouse

Posted by Word Camel on March 05, 2002

In Reply to: Don't Be Such a Big Girl's Blouse posted by ESC on March 05, 2002

: : : : This ranks among the strangest expressions I learned in Britain. I would like to know it's origin and a precise explanation of its meaning.

: : : : Word Camel

: : : Origin? I don't have the slightest idea. Meaning? Very similar to the semi-archaic "don't be such a wet blanket"... i.e. don't be such a wimp. It is an insult to be exclusively applied to us men in an effort to shame us into taking some usually ludicrous and reckless action by impugning our frangible male pride - it's such fun being a member of the gender that is so easily malleable.

: : Big girl's blouse. A weakling; an ineffectual person. The expression originated in the north of England in the 1960s and was popularized by northern-based televion programmes such as the SITCOM _Nearest and Dearest_ (1968-72), featuring Hylda Baker and Jimmy Jewel as brother and sister Nellie and Eli Pledge who inherit a pickle-bottling factory. ...
: : I find it bizarre that , while men are praised to the skies every time they come over all big girl's blouse, women are still penalized for getting in touch with their masculine side.
: : --INDIA KNIGHT in _Sunday Times_ (17 October 1999)
: : From Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable.

: : big girl noun (Derogatory) an effeminate male: I reckon blokes who don't take on dares are big girls. Also, big girl's blouse.
: : From _The Macquarie Book of Slang_

: : I was, I explaine, a big girl's blouse when it came to crumbling ledges, sheer drops, being underwater for unreasonable length of time and squeezing into jam jar sized spaces. (_Outdoor Walking_, 1992)

: Does this have any connection with calling a man a " undergarment in two pieces with short pants buttoning to the shirt at the waist..." (World Book Dictionary)?

The blouse part confuses me most. Is it the garment? Is there some other meaning for 'blouse'?

Also, I am not sure I entirely agree the comparison with 'wet blanket'. I understand a wet blanket to be someone who is not just a wimp but a kill joy. Someone who is a big girl's blouse is, as I understand it, useless and wimpy in a fussy and possibly priggish way. This might be because 'wet' has a slightly different connotation in the UK than in the US.

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