In Reply to: Te right circles posted by ESC on August 21, 2008 at 21:23:
: : : Does anyone know the origin or history of the phrase "moving in the right circles"? I am doing research on social class, and would like to know where this saying came from and which era it came from.
: : The word "circle" has had the sense 'a set or coterie; a class or division of society' since at least 1646, according to the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary. Once you have the concept of different "circles" in society, naturally people will quickly define some of them as "right" and others "wrong" (either in general or for a specific purpose, as in "we don't move in the right circles to meet any circus acrobats"). I'm fairly certainly the whole phrase isn't a quotation by anybody famous; it just arose naturally from this meaning of the word. (VSD)
: I found some quotes from the 1800s that use circle meaning social sphere.
The Oxford English Dictionary cites a remark from the 17th century, and one from the 18th century that is very mucht o the point.
"1646 SIR T. BROWNE Pseud. Ep. I. ix. 26, I shall have reason and experience of every Circle to support me. 1752 FIELDING Covent Gard. Jrnl. 9 May, He quotes the phrases 'a polite circle', 'the circle of one's acquaintance', 'people that live within a certain circle'."