Goody Two-Shoes: Definition, Meaning, and Origin

Last Updated on
December 30, 2023

The phrase "goody two-shoes" is often used to describe someone seen as excessively virtuous, overly good, or goody-goody. Typically, it implies that the person behaves in a way that seems too perfect or tries too hard to please others. This term can be used in various social settings, sometimes with a slightly negative or teasing connotation.

In short:

  • It describes someone who is excessively good or virtuous.
  • It's often used in a slightly negative or teasing way.

What Does "Goody Two-Shoes" Mean?

When someone is called a "goody-two-shoes," they are perceived as overly righteous or excessively good. This might be someone who always follows the rules, never steps out of line, or goes out of their way to show their goodness. For example, a student who always does extra homework or a colleague who never disagrees with the boss might be called a "goody-two-shoes."

Let's dig into its core meanings and usage:

  • It is used to describe someone who appears to be perfect or overly good.
  • The term is often applied in situations where someone's goodness seems excessive or insincere.
  • It can be used in both playful teasing and more critical contexts.
  • While it can be used affectionately, it often carries a slight undertone of annoyance or skepticism.
  • Similar expressions include "goody-goody," "teacher's pet," and "holier-than-thou."

Where Does "Goody Two-Shoes" Come From?

The origin of "goody two-shoes" can be traced back to a children's story from the 18th century, titled "The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes." This story, believed to be published by John Newbery in 1765, is about an orphan girl named Margery Meanwell who only had one shoe. When she receives a pair, she is so happy that she tells everyone about her two shoes, leading to the term "Goody Two-Shoes.

Historical Example

"See, there goes Margery Meanwell, the little Goody Two-Shoes, who is so happy now she has two shoes."

- "The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes," 1765

10 Examples of "Goody Two-Shoes" in Sentences

To help you understand how this phrase is used, here are some examples from different situations:

  • Whenever she followed the rules too strictly, her friends called her a goody two-shoes.
  • He didn’t want to seem like a goody-two-shoes in front of his classmates, so he skipped the extra assignment.
  •  He's nailing it at being a top student and a community volunteer, though some label him a goody-two-shoes.
  • His brother called him a goody-two-shoes for always helping their parents without being asked.
  • In the movie, the main character was a typical goody-two-shoes who never broke any rules.
  • Every time I try to do the right thing, they call me a goody-two-shoes, but I grit my teeth and take it as a compliment.
  • When she slid into my DM with a message about volunteering, I knew she was a goody-two-shoes, always looking to help.
  • She's a goody-two-shoes, much less likely to bunk class and more inclined to spend her free time in the library.
  • They set me up on a date with a goody-two-shoes, thinking I'd appreciate someone with such a strong moral compass.
  • During the game, they teased her for being a goody-two-shoes since she refused to bend the rules.

Examples of "Goody Two-Shoes" in Pop Culture

This phrase is also found in pop culture and is often used to describe characters with overly virtuous traits.

Let's look at some examples:

  • The book "Goody Two Shoes" by Janet Elizabeth Henderson is part of the Invertary series and revolves around humorous and romantic themes.
  • In "Army of Darkness" (1992), a line goes: "Little goody two-shoes! Little goody two-shoes!" This horror-comedy film features Bruce Campbell as Ash Williams, battling evil forces in a medieval setting.
  • "Introducing Little Goody Two Shoes: A Fairy Tale RPG Packed with Thrills, Sapphic Romance, and Witchy Rituals" discusses a new role-playing game. This Xbox Wire article highlights the game's unique features and storyline.

Synonyms: Other/Different Ways to Say "Goody Two-Shoes"

Here are some alternative phrases that express the same idea:

  • Goody-goody
  • Teacher's pet
  • Holier-than-thou
  • Rule-follower
  • Mr./Ms. Perfect
  • Straight-laced
  • Prude
  • Stickler
  • Moralist
  • Saint

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "Goody Two-Shoes":

  • What does "goody two-shoes" mean?

"Goody two-shoes" refers to someone who is perceived as overly virtuous, excessively good, or trying too hard to please. It often carries a slightly negative or teasing connotation.

  • How can I use "goody two-shoes" in a sentence?

You can use it to describe someone who acts in an overly good or righteous manner. For example: "She was labeled a goody two-shoes in school for always following the rules."

  • Is "goody two-shoes" used in a positive or negative way?

It's typically used in a slightly negative or teasing way to describe someone whose goodness seems excessive or insincere.

  • Where did the term "goody two-shoes" come from?

The term originated from a children's story titled "The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes," published in 1765, about an orphan girl named Margery Meanwell who was famously happy about having two shoes.

  • Can "goody two-shoes" be considered an insult?

It can be considered a mild insult or teasing remark, depending on the context and tone in which it's used.

  • Is "goody two-shoes" gender-specific?

No, it can be used for any gender, although historically it may have been used more frequently to describe females.

  • How has the meaning of "goody two-shoes" evolved over time?

While it originally may have had a more innocent or positive connotation, over time, it has taken on a more teasing or mildly mocking tone.

  • Can "goody two-shoes" be used affectionately?

Yes, it can be used affectionately in a light-hearted, teasing manner among friends or family.

  • Are there any similar phrases to "goody two-shoes"?

Similar phrases include "teacher's pet," "holier-than-thou," and "goody-goody."

  • Is "goody two-shoes" commonly used in modern language?

It's still used, though perhaps less commonly than in the past. It remains a recognizable term in many English-speaking countries.

Final Thoughts About "Goody Two-Shoes"

The idiom "goody two-shoes" is a unique expression for describing someone with overly good behavior. While it can be used in light-hearted teasing and more critical contexts, it's a versatile term that has remained part of the English language for centuries.

Here's a quick recap:

  • It describes someone who is perceived as excessively good or righteous.
  • The phrase can have both negative and positive connotations depending on the context.
  • Originating from an 18th-century children's story, it has a long history in English language usage.
  • It's not gender-specific and can be used in various social contexts.

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