Posted by Word Camel on March 05, 2002

In Reply to: Rated R 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.

: : I guess you'd use a wet blanket to put out a fire. Hence "killjoy".

: : The contents of a big girl's blouse probably inform the meaning of the phrase -- the phrase gets extra resonance for this misdirection and the imagery of white cotton strained and taut across a generous bosom (Crikey! I hope it's just not me that sees it that way!).

: Well, here's another bosomy phrase. A Texas friend calls someone who is a whiny little crybaby (mostly men) a "tittybaby."

I always associate "blouse" with a billowy fly-away quality. So I think of a big girl's blouse as someone who is skittish and fussy. But, as someone with a miserly bosom, I may be being overly subjective. ;)