Discussions about eggcorns and related topics
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Chris -- 2011-03-08
The origin of “gussied up” is hidden in the back rooms of 30s America. It is suggested to refer to an apocryphal dressed up Augustus or Augustine. Michael Quinion provides beyond that meagre base. Getting all “gutsied up” doesn’t make a lot of sense, unless you need courage to go out looking like that.
When I pulled my “waffle weave” curtains out, I had shriveled up curtains half the size they were before. I ! [...] But I was just so darn excited to get my house all gutsied up for my friends, and now I have to have ugly, shriveled curtains hanging up while I throw my first party in my new house!
Wiktionary has an entry for defined as ‘to boost, to take steps to make something appear more attractive’. That may be a coincidence, who knows. Goosed up and gussied up appeared about the same time, though goosed is much rarer and usually refers to cars or other machines.
I’ve seen so many “drugstore racers” going maybe 5 miles or so on an area of the bike path where the most of amount of people hang out, and their all goosied up to look like Lance Armstrong.
http://www.bikeforums.net/archive/index … 3-p-4.html
This one may be the best eggcorn, despite its rarity.
Oh baby just call ahead for appointment and I’ll be all gusted up for ya.
http://forum.myredbook.com/cgi-bin/dcfo … e=threaded
If “gussy up” does ultimately derive from a slang term for an effeminate man, then Quinion’s suggestion that it might come from a proper name Gus adapted from the Germanic Augustus/Gustavus overlooks the fact that Gus is a popular nickname in another immigrant community. English speakers anglicized the popular Greek given name Constantine (Costas) to Gus. Many NA Greek immgrants were Gusses (and a large number of them seem to have } We can, then, trace a speculative line of thought in the mind of a nineteenth century male adolescent: locker room jokes about forbidden male/male sexuality >> recall of homosexuality in classroom Greek literature (e.g., Alcibiades clumsy attempt to seduce Socrates in the Symposium) >> stereotypic connection between Greeks and homosexuality >> thoughts about a typical Greek, Gus, being a homosexual >> a “Gus” as a nickname for a homosexual >> “gussy up” as a term for the dressing habits of certain homosexuals >> “gussy up” as a term for dressing in a flamboyant way.
Imagining such a train of thought doesn’t mean that anyone ever caught this train, of course. Documentation about the earliest sources of “gussied up” is missing.