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Gussy up guessing #109021
07/30/03 10:30 PM 07/30/03 10:30 PM
Joined: Sep 2000
Posts: 4,757 maverick OP
On Another Board a friend from the Benighted States of Armourica used the expression to gussy up. This was a new expression for me - context gave it sense but.
Main Entry: gus不y up
Function: transitive verb
Inflected Form(s): gus不ied up; gus不y品ng up
Etymology: origin unknown
: DRESS UP, EMBELLISH
ｩ 2003 by Merriam-Webster, Incorporated
Anyone care to comment on whether this is common usage in your lexicon? And can anyone shed light on its origin?
Re: Gussy up guessing #109022
07/30/03 10:36 PM 07/30/03 10:36 PM
Joined: Jul 2003
Te Ika a Maui sjmaxq
Te Ika a Maui
It's not common up here, but I knew what it meant, thanks to American TV. As to where its origins, I know nowt.
noho ora mai
Re: Gussy up guessing #109023
07/30/03 10:42 PM 07/30/03 10:42 PM
Joined: Jan 2001
Posts: 13,858 wwh
Dear Mav: I'm pretty sure it is a lot older than 1950s.
It has a connotation of a bit of excess, and questionable taste and judgment.
Re: Gussy up guessing #109024
07/30/03 10:52 PM 07/30/03 10:52 PM
Joined: Apr 2000
this too shall pass tsuwm
this too shall pass
W3 gives prettify for a syn., which itself has a somewhat pejorative sense: adorn especially in a petty or overnice way.
I remember my (upper midwestern) aunt using it lots, back in the 50s and on. OED2 dates it at 1940 in a publication called Public School Slang, by Marple (which sounds British).
Re: Gussy up guessing #109025
07/30/03 10:59 PM 07/30/03 10:59 PM
Joined: Sep 2000
Posts: 4,757 maverick OP
Good catch - when I googled that title and author I got guess what! (and it seem to confirm your earlier usage memory, Bill)
an earlier use of Gussy or Gussie as a term for an effeminate or weak person. This appeared in the US at the end of the nineteenth century. The same word was used in Australia from about the same period to describe a male homosexual. In both cases, the word was usually written with an initial capital letter, which suggests it came from the proper name Augustus, being the sort of name that authors associated with an effete or weak-willed man (think of P G Wodehouse痴 wonderful invention of Gussie Fink-Nottle, who wasn稚 gay but otherwise fitted the stereotype).
Re: Gussy up guessing #109026
07/31/03 06:50 AM 07/31/03 06:50 AM
Joined: Mar 2002
Could this be the origin of the phrase? The date fits well with the MW entry.
In 1949, "Gorgeous" Gussie Moran - who became as famous for her ground-breaking fashions as she was for her tennis acrobatics - made headlines with her hemlines, stunning a crowd at Wimbledon by wearing white lace-fringed panties beneath her skirt.
Re: Gussy up guessing #109027
07/31/03 12:05 PM 07/31/03 12:05 PM
Joined: Mar 2000
lower upstate New York AnnaStrophic
lower upstate New York
... and isn't there a similar Brit word meaning the crotch of panties?
HEY! I'm word posting here!
Re: Gussy up guessing #109028
07/31/03 12:16 PM 07/31/03 12:16 PM
Joined: Oct 2000
rego park of troy
well there is the word gusset and they are used in women's panties, but they can be used anywhere..
not looking it up, a gusset is a peice of fabric use to create ease in a garment. most commonly found in underarm, or waist area, they are often cut on the bias.
Re: Gussy up guessing #109029
07/31/03 12:19 PM 07/31/03 12:19 PM
Joined: Sep 2001
Piedmont Region of Virginia, U... Wordwind
Piedmont Region of Virginia, U...
Oh, how very interesting--the fashion 'Gus'!
And also interesting to think about gussied-up as being some kind of disguise--or being guised as something else because one is so wonderfully gussied-up. But I don't expect there would be a real relationship between guised and gussied other than the obviously shared letters.
I have rarely heard 'gussied up,' by the way, although I have heard it throughout my 53 years. I don't use it--I don't think I use it, that is. I might use it in a humorous or lightly friendly way. I do like thinking about a gussied-up goose, for some juvenile reason.
Re: Gussy up guessing #109030
07/31/03 02:55 PM 07/31/03 02:55 PM
Joined: Apr 2003
Posts: 19 guest
It's very, very common on the west coast, quite literally ALWAYS used in a pejorative (or at least mockingly pejorative) sense, and almost always used in conjunction with "all", ie "all gussied up". an example of usage would be if you're expecting an evening at home, and your SO walks into the room damp from a shower, smelling of cologne and in fresh clothing ~ you raise a brow and ask 'why are you all gussied up? going somewhere?'. i've never, ever heard someone compliment another by saying 'wow, you're sure gussied up tonight!'.
i agree with the preceding posts, that it implies primping ~ excessive primping, in fact. i may have not read clearly enough, but if someone hasn't already mentioned "trussing", i somehow always make a phonesthetic mental link between trussing a bird for a feast and getting all gussied up.
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