Where Did the Phrase "Goody Two-Shoes" Come From?

iStock.com/Oleh_photographer
iStock.com/Oleh_photographer

“Goody Two-Shoes” was a real person—or at least, a real fictional character. It was the nickname of the title character in a nursery tale called The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes, published anonymously around 1765 by John Newbery. (Newbery is sometimes called “The Father of Children's Literature" because he was the first to make the genre profitable.)

The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes revolves around a poor orphan named Margery Meanwell, whose virtuous farmer father is ruined before his death by a pair of villains called Graspall and Gripe. Margery is so poor she has only one shoe, but a rich relative of the local clergyman takes pity on her and buys her a second one. Margery is so excited by her gift that she runs around exclaiming, "Two shoes, ma'am, two shoes!", or something to that effect, to everyone she meets. In the story, she eventually becomes a schoolteacher and marries a rich man, using her wealth to help the poor. The story was in keeping with the 18th and 19th century taste for gratingly virtuous heroes and heroines in kids’ books and became a huge bestseller, reprinted over and over in various forms.

But the author of the tale—some say it was Newbery himself—wasn't the first to use the phrase “Goody Two Shoes.” As the linguist Michael Quinion notes, it also appears in a 1694 poem by Charles Cotton, "A Voyage to Ireland in Burlesque," as a term for a bad-tempered housewife: “Why, what then, Goody two-shoes, what if it be? / Hold you, if you can, your tittle-tattle, quoth he.”

Though we think of the term today as referring to someone who is smug about being good, Quinion says that implication is only from about the 1930s. Originally, it was more about class. "Goody" was originally a polite form of address for poor married women, a shortening of "goodwife." (The male equivalent was "goodman.") That usage goes back to at least the 1550s, and it’s most likely how people would have thought of the term when The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes was published. For a time, "goody two shoes" was also depreciative term for a lower-class woman or a woman with lower-class tastes and manners (the male equivalent being "goodman two-shoes"). That term may predate the book, or arise from it—it’s not entirely clear which came first.

But the story definitely helped create the idea of a "goody" being someone who is always dutiful and well-behaved. Originally, that wasn’t always a bad thing (see the taste for gratingly virtuous heroines mentioned above). By the 1870s, there was another phrase, "goody goody," based on an early 19th century sense of "goody" as someone “characterized by inept manifestations of good or pious sentiment.” According to Quinion, the idea of the “goody goody” influenced our modern usage of the term “Goody Two Shoes.” When we use the phrase today, that’s the kind of "goody" we’re referring to. But if it wasn’t for little Margery Meanwell, we might not be saying it at all. 

Why Are Shower Doors in Hotel Rooms Getting Smaller?

sl-f/iStock via Getty Images
sl-f/iStock via Getty Images

Shower doors are shrinking in posh hotels, and minimalism is to blame, Condé Nast Traveler reports.

In lieu of hanging shower curtains or providing full shower doors, many newer hotels are opting for glass panels that cover only half the length of the shower. That’s frustrating for many travelers, who complain the growing trend is inconvenient and leaves bathroom floors sopping wet and slippery after shower use.

According to Condé Nast Traveler, the half-door trend began in European hotels in the 1980s. “A lot of it comes down to people trying to design hotel rooms with limited space,” boutique hotel designer Tom Parker told the magazine. “It’s about the swing of the shower door, because it has to open outward for safety reasons, like [if] someone falls in the shower. You have to figure out where the door swing’s going to go, make sure it’s not [hitting] the main door. It’s just about clearances.” A smaller door also has the added benefit of making the space appear larger than it really is, according to the magazine.

The trend is also connected to the birth of minimalist “lifestyle hotels,” which cater to a younger, hipper clientele that gravitates toward sleek lines and modern design. Plus, half-size glass doors are easier to clean than shower curtains, which tend to trap bacteria and need to regularly be replaced, which can add up to significant additional costs for a hotel.

Theoretically, even half-door showers are designed to minimize water spillage. Designers try to level the floors in bathrooms so water doesn’t pool in random areas, and they place shower heads and knobs in areas that are more protected by glass paneling. And where design doesn’t work, hotels try to pick up the slack.

“Hotels tend to mitigate the risks by offering non-slip interior shower mats, cloth bath mats for stepping out of the shower, grab bars, [and] open showers or no-sill showers which avoid having to step up and over the ledge,” designer Douglas DeBoer, founder and CEO of Rebel Design Group, told Condé Nast Traveler.

But the half-door trend still has yet to gain much love from hotel guests. “The older generation much, much prefers having a shower door,” Parker told Condé Nast Traveler. “I’m like a 70-year-old man at heart anyway. I like [a shower door] if it’s in keeping with the style of the rest of the room.”

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Does Pushing the Button at a Crosswalk Actually Do Anything?

Pressing this crosswalk button may or may not do something.
Pressing this crosswalk button may or may not do something.
David Tran/iStock via Getty Images

Since crosswalk signals rarely seem to give you the green light (or more accurately, the white, human-shaped light) right after you press the button, you may find yourself wondering if those buttons actually work. The potentially exasperating answer is this: It depends.

First and foremost, it’s important to understand that crosswalk buttons aren’t designed to have an immediate effect; they’re just supposed to tell the system that a person is waiting to cross. As CityLab explained, some systems won’t ever give pedestrians the crossing signal unless someone has pressed the button, while others are programmed to shorten the wait time for walkers when the button has been pressed. No matter what, the system still has to cycle through its other phases to give cars enough time to pass through the intersection, so you’ll probably still have to stand there for a moment.

During busy traffic times or under other extenuating circumstances, however, cities can switch the system to what’s known as “recall mode,” when pedestrian crossings are part of the cycle already and pressing the button quite literally changes nothing. Unfortunately, there’s no way to tell if a particular button is in recall mode, short of calling your city officials and asking an expert to come inspect it.

But if you feel like a button isn’t doing anything, there’s a pretty good chance it’s been permanently deactivated. As congestion has increased and the systems to manage it have become more advanced over the years, cities have moved away from using crosswalk buttons at all. In 2018, for example, CNN reported that only around 100 of New York City’s 1000 buttons were still functioning. Since actually removing the buttons from crosswalks would be a costly endeavor, cities have opted to leave them intact, just waiting to be pummeled by impatient pedestrians who don’t know any better.

What about 'close door' buttons on elevators, you ask? That depends, too.

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