Originally, it was the name of a
character in a 16th-century English comedy. Since then it has come to denote
"that which is genuine." What hyphenated phrase is it?
Etymology, Etymology, and more Etymology
as well as grammar, usage, euphemism, slang, jargon, semantics, linguistics, neologism, idiom, cant, and argot.
The critically-acclaimed board game
consists of tough questions about the nuances of the English language.
The original Simon Pure was a character
in the comedy A Bold Stroke for a Wife (1717) by
If anyone has any idea why the name
came to denote "genuineness," please let me know.
According to mirriam-webster online dictionary http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/mwwodarch.pl?Sep.16
A character in the play impersonated a Quaker preacher named
Simon Pure. Unfortunately for him, the real Simon Pure
appeared and proves himself to be the genuine article. The phrase was then
adopted as slang for genuineness.
The dictionaries also
give a secondary definition as:"pretentiously or hypocritically pure"(Mirriam
Webster) "Superficially or hypocritically virtuous." (American Heritage)
Presumably this definition refers to the imposter and the pretense needed for
mpecho at 88rdrop.com
From the web: http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/mwwodarch.pl?Sep.16
British dramatist and actress Susannah Centlivre (1669-1723)
introduced the character of Simon Pure in her 1718 comedy A Bold Stroke for a Wife.
play, Colonel Fainall wants to marry Anne Lovely, but to do so he must win the
consent of Anne's guardian, a Quaker gentleman named Obadiah Prim.
Fainall tries to gain the needed approval by impersonating a Quaker
preacher named Simon Pure.
Unfortunately for the
scheme, the real Simon Pure appears and proves himself to be the genuine
People adopted the phrase the real
Simon Pure (which in turn gave rise to the adjective
simon-pure) from the play to refer to things true or genuine.
This is all I was able to dig up:
simon-pure (adj.) 1815, from the true Simon Pure "the
genuine person or thing" (1795), from Simon Pure, name of a Quaker who is
impersonated by another character (Colonel Feignwell) in part of the comedy
A Bold Stroke for a Wife (1717) by Susannah Centlivre, English
dramatist and actress. The real Simon Pure is dealt with as an imposter and is
believed only after he has proved his identity.
reagan at crabtreebooks.com
The manuscript of the play is the obvious place to start
your search for the answer.
The names of any number of
literary characters (e.g., Scrooge, Falstaff, Milquetoast) now serve to denote
characteristics notable in their roles on the page.
very word characteristics may well have come into being to
describe this long-common phenomenon.
assign++ at shaw.ca
My recollection is that the character Simon Pure was a Quaker
preacher who had to prove his identity when someone else tried to impersonate
Hence, he established himself as the real Simon
Pure, or the genuine article.
As far as I know, the
"pure" has nothing to do with purity in today's meaning (although I'm sure it
did in the original play).
william.dunlap at quinnipiac.edu
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