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#109021 - 07/30/03 10:30 PM Gussy up guessing  
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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
Pronunciation: 'g&-sE-'&p
Function: transitive verb
Inflected Form(s): gus不ied up; gus不y品ng up
Etymology: origin unknown
Date: 1952
: 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?



#109022 - 07/30/03 10:36 PM Re: Gussy up guessing  
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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.


#109023 - 07/30/03 10:42 PM Re: Gussy up guessing  
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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.


#109024 - 07/30/03 10:52 PM Re: Gussy up guessing  
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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).


#109025 - 07/30/03 10:59 PM Re: Gussy up guessing  
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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).

http://www.quinion.com/words/qa/qa-gus1.htm


#109026 - 07/31/03 06:50 AM Re: Gussy up guessing  
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UK
Could this be the origin of the phrase? The date fits well with the MW entry.

Gorgeous Gussie

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.

http://www.petticoated.com/gussie19.htm



#109027 - 07/31/03 12:05 PM Re: Gussy up guessing  
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lower upstate New York
... and isn't there a similar Brit word meaning the crotch of panties?

HEY! I'm word posting here!



#109028 - 07/31/03 12:16 PM Re: Gussy up guessing  
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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.


#109029 - 07/31/03 12:19 PM Re: Gussy up guessing  
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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.




#109030 - 07/31/03 02:55 PM Re: Gussy up guessing  
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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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