Goody Two Shoes - Meaning, Origin and Usage

Are you looking for a way to call someone out on their overly virtuous, smug behavior? If so, you could tell them to stop being such "goody two-shoes." This post unpacks the meaning and origin of this expression.


The meaning of the expression "goody two-shoes" refers to an overly virtuous person. They are the kid in class that's always telling the teacher who did what when they were away from class.

They are the person that refuses to do anything wrong because they feel it may have repercussions with the law.

They are the person that has to live a clean, straight life devoid of any complications or interactions with people living in the "grey area" of life.

Example Usage

"I can't stand Karen in class. She's always telling the teacher everything the class does wrong when she's out of the room. She's such a goody two-shoes."

"Simon is such a goody two-shoes. There's no way we're going to convince him to do anything illegal."

"Why are you such a goody two-shoes all the time? Man, I wish you would cut loose a little from time to time."

"Sylvia is a real goody two-shoes. Don't show her the beer, or she'll rat you out to the parents."

"All the people that live in this area are goody two-shoes. If they see you doing anything wrong, they'll call the cops on your right away."


The origin of the expression "goody two-shoes" comes from a nursery rhyme, "The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes," published in 1765. Language experts are unsure of the author responsible for penning the text.

Some experts believe the author was Oliver Goldsmith, but no one is sure. The story is a re-hash of the "Cinderella" tale, reinforcing the values of the time that being diligent reaps a reward for you in Heaven.

"Goody Two-Shoes" is also a nickname given to an orphan girl, Margery Meanwell. It's said that Margery was so poor as a child she could only afford one shoe. A rich man bought her a new pair of shoes, and she goes around showing her parents and family her new shoes.

"She ran out to Mrs. Smith as soon as they were put on, and stroking down her ragged Apron thus, cried out, 'Two Shoes, Mame, see two Shoes.' And so she behaved to all the people she met, and by that Means obtained the Name of Goody Two-Shoes."

However, the meaning of the saying changed over the years. Now it refers to someone overly virtuous to achieve a hidden agenda. They'll get you in trouble to further their image in the eyes of authority.

Phrases Similar to Goody Two Shoes

  • Apple polisher.
  • Prim and proper.
  • Goody-goody.

Phrases Opposite to Goody Two Shoes

  • Rebel.
  • Anti-authoritarian.

What is the Correct Saying?

  • Goody two-shoes.

Ways People May Say Goody Two Shoes Incorrectly

The phrase has nothing to do with footwear. It's another way of telling someone that their virtuous behavior is annoying and should stop. Using the expression to describe a nice pair of shoes would be the incorrect use of the phrase.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase Goody Two Shoes

You can use the phrase "goody two-shoes" when you're trying to tell someone that they are being overly virtuous in their behavior. The term suits social and professional use. For instance, you could use the saying at work to tell a colleague to stop reporting everything she see's to the manager as it's annoying the rest of the office. At home, you could tell your kids to stop being "goody two-shoes" and get into more adventures in life.

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