Goody Two-Shoes —Meaning, Origin


The phrase goody two-shoes describes someone who acts in an honest way whenever possible. In other words, they regularly do what is considered right.

Example: The weather was nice and sunny outside, so I went for a jog. As I came to a crosswalk, I noticed that someone accidentally dropped their wallet on the ground. So, being the goody two-shoes that I am, I went and returned it to them.

Synonyms / Related: goody-goody

Idiom: Goody Two-Shoes

The Origin of “Goody Two-Shoes”

What’s the origin of the English phrase “goody two-shoes“? Unfortunately, it’s not clear where it came from. However, it’s believed that the expression was popularized by the book The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes, published in 1765.

To summarize the book’s story: It tells of an orphan girl who goes by the name of Margery Meanwell. She is poor and walks around with only one shoe. She can’t afford a full pair! However, later on a rich person decides to give Margery a pair of shoes. She’s very happy about this gift. In fact, she’s so happy that she goes and tells everyone about her two new shoes, which eventually earns her the nickname Goody Two-Shoes.

While this book may have helped to popularize the phrase, the expression itself is older. According to a few places, such as World Wide Words, this idiom makes an appearance in a poem called Voyage to Ireland in Burlesque by an English poet named Charles Cotton, 1670:

“Mistress mayoress complained that the pottage was cold;

‘And all long of your fiddle-faddle,’ quoth she.

‘Why, then, Goody Two-shoes, what if it be?

Hold you, if you can, your tittle-tattle,’ quoth he.”

This means the phrase is at least 349 years old!

Example Sentence

  • Come on, Allen! Stop being such a goody two-shoes and take a drink, will ya?

Note: This website has the origins and meanings for phrases and sayings. Looking back through history, it’s tough to find the place or person in which a phrase has its roots. We are limited to what can be found in writings and print, such as books, poems, and newspapers.

The quotes you see that contain a certain phrase are there to show you how old it is. These quotes are not meant to indicate that the idiom originated from that source. In all likelihood, if a newspaper is using an expression, then it’s probably already a known term at the time and thus, its origin is older.

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