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    #1

    prim and proper

    Dear teachers,

    By working out a quiz focusing on colloquial phrases I have been running into a difficulty concerning a phrase, which attracted my attention with its ambiguous.

    "I can't quite imagine Ellen drinking pints of beer - she's very prim and proper."
    I know the meaning of this colloquial phrase, namely "someone who is prim and proper behaves in a very formal and correct way and is easily shocked by anything rude.

    "She is very prim and correct about anything. Make sure you don't use any swear words around her."

    I think, on this places, (both examples above), this phrase has a positive connotation. But I know by hearing only about the usage of the present phrase with another meaning with a negative connotation.

    Would you tell me something more regarding to this phrase as well as concerning its usage?

    Thank you in advance for your efforts.

    Regards.

    V.


    • Join Date: Nov 2007
    • Posts: 5,409
    #2

    Re: prim and proper

    It may have been a virtue, or indeed, de rigueur (=required by etiquette or current fashion) to be 'prim and proper' in Victorian times, but it is far from a positive comment on someone since the flapper age (1920's good-time girls). For a girl not to down pints of beer, or be shocked by swearing, may seem 'positive' qualities in the girl; but when such a girl is considered 'prim and proper', the image is one of a starchy, formal, unsmiling Sunday School teacher, who thinks fun and play for children should be limited in case they get 'over-excited', and who could never 'let her hair down'. Think of Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Ernest as your common garden variety back in those times.
    Obviously, you will rarely find this stereotype in its full blown manifestation in the modern world; but it is certainly a negative evaluation of a person, and still connotes a very staid person who can't take a joke and doesn't really know how to have fun. She must maintain what she considers to be a 'lady-like' demeanor at all times.
    Of course, one has to balance that against who is calling the girl prim and proper. The kind of girl a group of football hooligans might term Miss Prim and Proper, (a girl who won't go into a Wet T-Shirt competition down at the pub), we might see as a really nice girl.
    Last edited by David L.; 07-Jan-2008 at 12:44.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Bulgarian
      • Home Country:
      • Bulgaria
      • Current Location:
      • Bulgaria

    • Join Date: Sep 2007
    • Posts: 5,000
    #3

    Re: prim and proper

    Hi DavidL,

    Thank you for your prompt and comprehensive reply.

    There is no getting round that your posts make their mark in the world for their unusual thoroughness and unreserved convincingness, as well as their opulent basic word stock.

    I hope you will be lenient towards my eventual mistakes and "weird" words or phrases.

    Regards.

    V.

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