"That's a great deal to make one word mean," Alice said in a thoughtful tone. "When I make a word do a lot of work like that," said Humpty Dumpty, "I always pay it extra."

Saturday, 23 February 2013

No better than she should be

 If a girl is described as 'no better than she should be' one is suggesting, by this classic understatement, that she is immoral.  The first record of it is from an early 18th century translation of Cervantes  ‘Don Quixote’.    Whether it was coined at the time or was an earlier phrase that was in common usgae no one knows.  

Perhaps not surprisingly there is no equivalent male phrase that I am aware of.

1 comment:

  1. I've been searching for the origin of this phrase myself recently. While I'm aware that it has been attributed to Cervantes, I also came across a reference to Henry Fielding: apparently it can be found in his 1730 play The Temple Beau.