Little Miss Goodie Two Shoes

Posted by ESC on January 12, 2004

In Reply to: Little Miss Goodie Two Shoes posted by Elizabeth on January 12, 2004

: Can anyone tell me the origin of the phrase, "Little Miss Goodie Two Shoes"? Or, can you point me to a good source for history of phrases? Thank you!

GOODY TWO-SHOES - "A person who is affectedly good or proper; a person who is uncommonly good. Maybe just a mite too good and a bit too optimistic and a tad too nice? In an 18th-century nursery tale, believed to have been written by Oliver Goldsmith, the (Irish-born) English novelist, poet, and playwright. Good Two-shoes is very poor and has but one shoe. When she is given a pair she is so happy that she tells everyone that she has 'two shoes' - hence, her name. She later become wealthy, in the way of worthy nursery-tale children. Thus a goody two-shoes is someone like her; properly behaved, happy, cheerfully optimistic, nice. As you might guess, the term has acquired a negative aura; someone too nice to be completely sincere." From "Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Allusions" by Elizabeth Webber and Mike Feinsilber (Merriam-Webster, Springfield, Mass., 1999).

The story was "The History of Little Goody Shoes," according to the Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins by William and Mary Morris (HarperCollins, New York, 1977, 1988). "Whether Oliver stooped to writing children's stories or not, the piece was published in 1765 by John Newbery, first publisher of books for children.Incidentially, if Goldsmith really was author of the story, it's possible to read a few bits of psychological significance into to it, since Oliver - though a brilliant and prolific writer - was always in debt, and forever spending more than he could afford on his clothing. Including, we suppose, shoes."