phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Home | Search the website Search | Discussion Forum Home|

Sartorial Frippery

Posted by ESC on July 09, 2003

In Reply to: Sartorial Frippery posted by Bruce Kahl on July 09, 2003

: : : "i gussed up the recipe by adding" what is the origin of guss up

: : I am guessing that it relates to "getting gussied up," meaning to get dressed up in one's best outfit.

: : From Merriam-Webster online:

: : Main Entry: gus·sy up
: : Pronunciation: 'g&-sE-'&p
: : Function: transitive verb
: : Inflected Form(s): gus·sied up; gus·sy·ing up
: : Etymology: origin unknown
: : Date: 1952

: Lifted entirely from the Word Detective:

: " "Gussied up" is usually described as a native Americanism dating to the early 20th century. The "gussy," it is theorized, was actually a "gusset," a triangular piece of fabric sewn into a garment to make it fit better. Gussets were, in those days, typical of fancy clothes and, by extension, a fitting symbol of sartorial frippery.

: The Oxford English Dictionary, however, proposes a different, and I think much more likely, origin of "gussied up." It turns out that "gussie" -- a diminutive of the name "Augustus" -- is Australian slang for an effeminate man, dating back to the early 1900's. It's easy to imagine a rich young dandy named "Gussie" incurring the contempt of turn-of-the-century Australians, so I vote for this theory."

I figured that "1952" date had to be wrong.