What’s the origin of “Goody Two Shoes”?

Dear Cecil:

We all know that grown-up liberals are sometimes called "do-gooders," a rather self-explanatory term. However, that same do-gooder at a younger age might have been called a "goody-two-shoes." Could you sort through the semantic thicket and tell us just where that term came from?

Cecil replies:

“Little Goody Two-Shoes” was the heroine of a children’s story of the same title, first published in 1765 and often attributed to that favorite of English graduate students everywhere, Oliver Goldsmith. The story, such as it is, concerns a poor waif who has somehow managed to make it through life with only one shoe. Finally rewarded with another, she scampers over hill and dale pointing at her feet and crying “Two shoes! Two shoes!” in so cloying a manner that her name has lived through the ages as a symbol of puerility. “Goody” is a contraction of “Goodwife,” a form of address roughly equivalent to our “Mrs.,” and now archaic.

Send questions to Cecil via cecil@straightdope.com.

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