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: While I was out jogging on a nice summer day, I saw someone drop their wallet at a crosswalk. Being the goody two-shoes that I am, I immediately ran over, picked it up and returned it to its owner.

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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

  • You gave that wallet full of cash back to those people without hesitation, Allen. I’m impressed, I didn’t think you were such a goody two-shoes.

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