The Miles article mentioned above supposed the expression to relate to pixies, based on the Scottish imp folk tale. If you are an old subscriber and not getting posts, please subscribe again. When you buy via the links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you.

The most pervasive explanation is that the phrase originated with the Brownies, a subsect of the Girl Scouts who were encouraged to perform good deeds in their communities. I first heard about them [brownie points] when the chap standing next to me in the elevator pulled a letter from his pocket, looked at it in dismay and muttered More lost brownie points., Figuring him for an eccentric, I forgot about them until that evening when one of the boys looked soulfully into the foam brimming his glass and said solemnly: I should have been home two hours ago Ill never catch up on my brownie points.. The earliest known example so far found appeared in the Los Angeles Times in March 1951, which is worth repeating because of its different gloss on the meaning: You dont know about brownie points? Page created 12 Mar. Want to see more videos from Idioms.Online?

By 1951, the term was still relatively new among certain portions of the masses. This origin is supposed to allude to the practice of 'brown nosing', otherwise known as ' a***-licking'. Whats more, there has never been a point system for getting ahead in the American Brownies. The term brownie points is commonly associated or used with several different verbs.

2005Last updated: 26 Mar.

Red or brown points were used to buy meat, which would have been a sought-after commodity. These are the youngest junior girl scouts, girls in the second or third grades, ages 7 to 9. What is the origin of this phrase?

The experts are agreed that the sense was given greater strength and impetus through scatological undertones, being intimately (and I use that word advisedly) associated with the older term brown-nose, for a sycophant or toady, a person who curries favour to such an extent that his nose seems to be up his superiors backside. It has been suggested that the term was given impetus through its coincidence with related scatological slang. Lastly, brownie points could have had something to do with the Brownie Camera Club, a childrens club run by Eastman Kodak. He was also good enough to include an illustrative cartoon: I first heard about them [brownie points] when the chap standing next to me in the elevator pulled a letter from The relationship between a purchase and the collection of these "brown points" equated with doing a good thing (supporting the local vendor) and getting a bonus (the valuable stamps).

cahill tim remain decade managed epl stewart playing mark key low during fatherhood (The Napa Valley Register), The current crop of would-be councillors have made some equally cringeworthy attempts to score brownie points with voters. This published an article by Marvin Miles titled Brownie Points--a New Measure of a Husband. Brownie by itself is recorded as student slang from 1944 in this sense in the journal American Speech, which defined it as A person who is always asking and answering questions in class to impress the instructor. And check out our books about the English language. In a Los Angeles Times column published on March 15, 1951, writer Marvin Miles observed a peculiar phrase spreading throughout his circle of friends and the social scene at large.

The Oxford English Dictionary notes its first appearance in print in 1963, but it was definitely old even then.

(Forbes Magazine).

Youll probably run across several questionable theories on the internet about how brownie points came to mean imaginary credits earned to curry favor, including these: However, we agree with the OED that brownie points is probably derived from brown-nose, a term that showed up in the late 1930s.

These stamps were collected by customers and later redeemed for household gifts. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.

37cents". Why Do We Want to Squeeze/Bite/Pinch Cute Stuff So Badly? The Girl Guides origin is also the only derivation that could logically lead to 'brownie' as opposed to 'brown'. Also, if this is the origin, why 'brownie' - wouldn't the expression be 'Brown points'? We are using cookies to give you the best experience on our website. Since this has the opposite sense to our phrase, it may seem unlikely to be its origin. 1989. It was started in 1900 with the purpose of teaching kids how to use the Brownie box camera. People who used it in the US military had little reason to consider the origin - they just used the phrase with the meaning they had picked up from context. lesbian symbol sticker visibility feminist prev

OED Online. As you can see, Miles informant believed that the term was related to the mythological creature. You can say: Dont I get some brownie points for being nice to your aunt while she was here? The Oxford English Dictionary says brownie point, a colloquial usage that originated in the US, is probably a development from brown-nose, but its popularly associated with Brownies, hence frequently spelled with capital initial., The Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang says the expression comes from the point system used for advancement by the Brownies of the Girl Scouts of America; but strongly reinforced by brown-nose.. At a family and faculty meeting at Leon High in Tallahassee, Florida, in 1956, earning brownie points was said to be a serious problem. Further, the term brownie points started off in the school yard, working itself into student slang, and was recorded in the 1944 edition of American Speech: A person who is always asking and answering questions in class to impress the instructor. All my buddies keep score.

There are many, many origin theories for this one. The word brownie in that citation was student slang for the noun brown-nose. A 1944 issue of American Speech includes this definition: Brownie. At some point this schoolyard slang percolated to members of the military during WWII where brownie points was used as a sarcastic sort of insult. Browse me on the scene Request for information. You get brownie points for doing something good. In the 1930s, kids who signed up to deliver magazines like The Saturday Evening Post and Ladies' Home Journal from Curtis Publishing were eligible for vouchers labeled greenies and brownies that they could redeem for merchandise. J. E. Lighter points out the probability of the military slang meaning being a stimulus to the wider use of the phrase.

Brownie points are imaginary merit points awarded for the performance of good deeds or favors, it is usually a derogatory term. The first citation in print that I can find is in the Pennsylvania newspaper The Daily Item, May 1944: Awards were given to Lois Bingaman and Helen Romig for attendance and Brownie points. smart ones ice cream watchers weight brownie sundae chocolate calorie points fudge The singular form, brownie point, is rarely seen. To earn credit by doing some little task to earn a badge or prize is fine for Brownies but its childish and a bit embarrassing if an adult does it.

Meat was designated by red or brown points; for example, this advertisement in The Daily Times-News, September, 1943: "Grade A Lambs Legs - 6 red or brown points per lb. Its a way of figuring where you stand with the little woman favor or disfavor. If they were offended or treated poorly, they could turn into evil boggarts which caused mischief around the home, such as causing the milk to turn sour. Sir Robert Baden-Powell, who had formed the Boy Scouts and was asked to name this new Girl Scout division, dubbed them Brownies after the magical creatures of Scottish folklore that materialized to selflessly help with household chores. Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? There must have been a single person who first used it and it must have been in relation to something - most likely one of the above list. Tattersalls Arcade, Shop 8 B, 215 Queen Street, Brisbane City QLD 4000, Australia, 83 Merthyr Rd, New Farm QLD 4005, Australia. Select your currency from the list and click Donate. Accounts of his system were published in railroad journals, and adopted by many leading U.S. While some people are unwilling to look beyond the first explanation, the derivation that seems favoured with the best circumstantial evidence is the Girl Guides story. Though the term Brownie point for one of the demerits is only recorded from 1942, it is almost certainly older. Brownie Girl Scouts and Girl Guides could earn merit badges by doing small tasks around the home, earning Brownie Points and pleasing adults. The term could also have been the result of wartime rationing in the 1940s, where red and brown ration points could be redeemed for meats. There isn't any record of a points system associated with the club and this supposed derivation lacks any firm evidence to support it.

Oxford University Press. Q From James Brunskill, UK: It is quite common these days to hear of people gaining Brownie Points as reward for some small favour or as a sign of approbation. This is the name given to the seven to ten age range of the Girl Guides (Girl Scouts in the USA). Over the decades, the phrase brownie points has become synonymous with currying favor, often with authority figures such as teachers or employers. It seems probable that two or even three threads came together to form the phrase. The Surprisingly Long and Determined Effort to Create a Flying Submarine, The Curious Case of the Extreme Sport Mensur. These magazines were distributed to subscribers through a delivery network that used youths, primarily boys, to go around to the individual houses. The earliest citation I can find which uses the current metaphorical meaning, that is, a use where no actual Brownies are involved comes from the March 15th 1951 edition of The Los Angeles Times. Which do you think seems like the most plausible definition? All rights reserved. Also called apple polishing, it prompted other students in class to shame their peers for being friendly to teachers. So what does a chocolate have to do with earning approval? World Wide Words tries to record at least a part of this shifting wordscape by featuring new words, word histories, words in the news, and the curiosities of native English speech. Enter your email address to subscribe to the blog by email.

They were not explicitly dubbed brownie points, but its not hard to imagine kids applying a points system to the brownies they earned. Five greenies equalled one brownie. The phrase didnt really seem to pick up steam until Miles's column was published. Ill never catch up on my brownie points. When questioned about the usage, the speaker replies: You dont know about brownie points?

Started way back in the days of the leprechauns, I suppose, long before there were any doghouses..

[6], The Oxford English Dictionary conjectures that this expression could also have derived from U.S. military slang for sycophants, "brown-nosers", while also mentioning the popular etymology that derives it from the awards system of the Brownies. The term 'brownie points' isn't recorded in relation to this system. Douglas Wilson has suggested that its origin may lie in part in wartime American food rationing, in which ration points in various colours were required to make food purchases: red and brown ones for meats and fats, for example. English Idioms: 22 Idioms For Happiness or Being Happy.

Accessed 14 July 2005.

All my buddies keep score. 'Brownie points', or even 'greenie points', would have been an obvious name for the tally of vouchers. As the Brownies were inspired by the brownies, this is perhaps not entirely incorrect assuming the Girl Scouts really are to thank for this expression, maybe with a little (or a lot of) help from the previously existing brown-noser, which may have even independently inspired the phrase. While standing in an elevator, he overheard the man next to him lamenting lost brownie points. Later, in a bar, a friend of Miles's who had stayed out too late said he would never catch up on his brownie points.

In the decades since that time, the idiom has become attached to any act where goodwill can be expected in return, particularly if its from someone in a position to reward the act with good grades or a promotion. One of these reports was in the Daily News of Newport, Rhode Island, dated 15 April that year; I reproduce it as a quick glance down nostalgia alley for all those American high-school alumni who are even older than I am: We want more new lingo writes a Missouri column fan who wants to be the first to spring new vernacular on her group. Ration points in various colours were required to buy food. Despite that, and despite it being well documented in, for example, K. J. Norman Browne's book The Brown and Other Systems of Railway Discipline, published in 1923 by the London Railway Gazette. his pocket, looked at it in dismay and muttered "More lost brownie points.". railroads. In Scots folklore 'brownies' were benevolent imps that performed household work while the family slept. Another less accepted theory of the origin of the term has to do with the Fall Brook Railroad in New York State, which had a G. R Brown as the superintendent from 1886. You have to try hard., Telling your audience what they want to hear may get you some brownie points but you arent doing them any favors.. Beyond the fact that the source is certainly the USA, no one is sure what the derivation of the phrase is but, as always in such circumstances, many are willing to make educated guesses. The Company published a catalogue offering a variety of goods for which brownies could be redeemed. Brownies were named for the helpful Scottish elf who secretly does chores for worthy humans. Robert Baden-Powell, founder of Scouting, got the name from The Brownies, an 1870 short story by Juliana Horatio Ewing about two children who try to be as helpful as the spirits. Its a way of figuring where you stand with the little womanfavor or disfavor. (Being able to find these is not to denigrate the skill of the OED editor who compiled that entry two decades ago, for whom such searchable electronic files would have been a paradise beyond imagining.) But it might have contributed to the idea. - The Brownies. What esoteric cult was this that immersed men in pixie mathematics? he wrote.

A gentleman called George R Brown developed a scoring methodology for railroad workers in the late 19th century that became very popular and soon people were referring to their scores as Brownie Points.

A client came into our store the other day and asked abut the term and it got us thinking. Also a person who stays after class to try to insinuate himself into the teachers good graces., (Some standard dictionaries consider brown-nose and brownnose equal variants, but we think the hyphenated spelling is easier to read.). World War II food rationing, where brown points were used to buy meat and fat; the use of brownie points for demerits in World War II army jargon; brown vouchers, or brownies, awarded to Saturday Evening Post delivery boys in the 1930s; demerits, or brownie points, that G. R. Brown, general superintendent of the Fall Brook Railway in New York and Pennsylvania, gave to employees in the late 19th century. Another possibility was recalled by several subscribers who were children in the 1930s.

So where exactly did the term come from, and what happens when you earn them? The vouchers could be saved and later used to buy items from the company's catalogue. Also a person who stays after class to try to insinuate himself into the teachers good graces". The English language is forever changing. Again, this doesn't argue strongly for Superintendent Brown as the instigator, as 'brownie points' are merits not demerits. It was, his colleagues explained, a way of keeping score with their spouses, of tallying the goodwill they had accrued with the little woman.. As for Miles: the columnist declared his understanding of brownie points came only after a long night of investigation. The question is, what are brownies and how did the phrase originate? So here goes: Miami young people keep their teachers agog with their lingo says Sanford Schnier, of the Miami Daily News. If you disable this cookie, we will not be able to save your preferences. This means that every time you visit this website you will need to enable or disable cookies again. Children could submit photographs into competitions and win cash prizes. That doesnt explain why its brownie points instead of Brown points or why brownie points are considered a positive thing rather than a negative one. The Brownies were often too young to be official Girl Scouts and were sometimes the siblings of older members. The armys tendency to have soldiers do things that seemed silly and child-like no doubt contributed to the popularity of the phrase. (The Mirror), The food-health connect which earns him brownie points, is not new and has been growing in Kerala. 2nd ed. If you liked this article, you might also enjoy our new popular podcast, The BrainFood Show (iTunes, Spotify, Google Play Music, Feed), as well as: Andrew M. asks: Why do we say You just earned some brownie points. What were brownie points originally for? In particular, there are many references in newspapers during 194344 to brown points, which may have contributed the points part of the expression. Please enable Strictly Necessary Cookies first so that we can save your preferences! No one appears to have used the expression at the time though. In fact every married male should know about em. Fluffs Fat boys.