Posted by R. Berg on March 14, 2001
In Reply to: Origin of phrase posted by JudyAnn on March 14, 2001
: am searching for the origin of the phrase 'bless his/her cotton socks' - it's come up in conversation and I realize I have no idea where it came from though I've used it for years.
Eric Partridge, Dictionary of Catch Phrases: American and British, from the Sixteenth Century to the Present Day, has the following entry for "Bless your little cotton socks!"
Thank you!: a middle-class catch phrase dating from c. 1905 and becoming, by 1960, archaic. The elaboration "bless your little heart and cotton socks!" arose c. 1910 and disappeared c. 1918. Although the two phrases are always benevolent, they never exceed affection. [Material added by Paul Beale, who updated Partridge's book:] Since mid-20th century, and often said of others, . . . a jocular benediction/thanks, as in 'Oh, bless their little cotton socks--they've left everything ready for us'; or simply in admiration of a baby, child, even a pet animal.
Source doesn't say why socks or why cotton. Maybe these elements are arbitrary.