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smart cookie

smart cookie

Postby hcbowman » Tue Jul 26, 2005 8:12 am

I'm curious about smart cookie, which was used in a recent broadcast of A Way With Words that focused on food expressions. Unfortunately, the show didn't give either the meaning or the origin of the idiom.

The Online Etymology Dictionary says smart cookie goes back to 1948 but gives no specifics.

My question is whether smart cookie originally referred to women only, as implied here:

http://membres.lycos.fr/cinemaparlant/a ... ortune.htm

A quick search on Google shows plenty of references to male smart cookies today.

Thanks!

--Cliff
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Postby tcward » Tue Jul 26, 2005 10:05 am

Sounds like it would have originated as a term men would use for women back in the 1940's and 1950's. But I'm a man, so that may cloud my judgment.

In the 70's this expression was probably reserved for the local diner's chef.

-Tim :wink:
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Postby hcbowman » Tue Jul 26, 2005 12:02 pm

It's interesting that the Cambridge International Dictionary of Idioms
http://dictionary.cambridge.org/results ... kie&dict=I
is self-consciously gener-neutral in the definitions of both smart cookie and tough cookie, but for both idioms they supply an example referring to a woman.

In the 70's this expression was probably reserved for the local diner's chef.

I thought about this in conjunction with the nickname of the mess sergeant from Beetle Bailey, a US comic strip dating from 1950. This left me even more confused... :cry:
Last edited by hcbowman on Wed Jul 27, 2005 8:14 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby KatyBr » Tue Jul 26, 2005 12:30 pm

A feminist would say Men like to reduce women to something easily crumbled.....

Katy
no feminist, but not easily crumbled either.
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Postby Stargzer » Tue Jul 26, 2005 9:45 pm

hcbowman wrote: . . . I thought about this in conjunction with nickname of the mess sergeant from Beetle Bailey, a US comic strip dating from 1950. This left me even more confused... :cry:


Well, that's because he's the cook, not a chef, like Emeril. :D

From the Quick Definition at the OneLook Dictionary site:

noun: the cook on a ranch or at a camp


So, perhaps your basic chuck wagon cook was not reknowned for his mental abilities. A smart cookie then would be a brighter-than-average cook.

Hey, it sounds better than that one relating railroad gauges to Roman roads! :)
Regards//Larry

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-- Attributed to Richard Henry Lee
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Postby mamawsandy » Sun Dec 25, 2005 12:51 pm

I would not mind if someone called me "One smart cookie" LOL
mamawsandy
I'm a Steel Magnolia
Tough but gentle
Like a lady
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Postby M. Henri Day » Sun Dec 25, 2005 2:52 pm

Doug Harper records that «cookie» was in use as early as 1920 to refer to persons, but says as little here with respect to gender as he does when tracing the orgin of «smart cookie».

Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muß man schweigen....


Henri
曾记否,到中流击水,浪遏飞舟?
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