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Keeping up with the Joneses, the meaning

Posted by ESC on January 31, 2003

In Reply to: Keeping up with the Joneses, the meaning posted by Kevin Snow on January 31, 2003

: You didn't post a definition for Keeping Up with the Joneses. The Joneses are the affluent neighbors down the street. If they buy a new car and you buy a new car simply because they did, that's called Keeping up with the Joneses. Another way to say it is maintaining an external show of affluence because your neighbors do.

It's in the archives:

KEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES -- "According to his own account, cartoonist Arthur R. ("Pop") Momand lived in a community where many people tried to keep up with the Joneses. Momand and his wife resided in Cedarhurst, New York, one of Long Island's Five Towns, where the average income is still among America's highest. Living 'far beyond our means in our endeavor to keep up with the well-to-do class,' the Momands were wise enough to quit the scene and move to Manhattan, where they rented a cheap apartment and 'Pop' Momand used his Cedarhurst experience to create his once immensely popular 'Keeping Up with the Joneses' comic strip, launched in 1913. Momand first thought of calling the strip 'Keeping Up with the Smiths,' but 'finally decided on 'Keeping Up with the Joneses' as being more euphonious.' His creation ran in American newspapers for over 28 years and appeared in book, movie, and musical-comedy form, giving the expression 'keeping up with the Joneses' the wide currency that made it a part of everyday language." From "The Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins" by Robert Hendrickson (Facts on File, New York, 1997).