brownie points


Brownie points in modern usage are an imaginary
social currency Social currency refers to the actual and potential resources from presence in social network A social network is a social structure made up of a set of social actors (such as individuals or organizations), sets of Dyad (sociology), dyadic t ...
, which can be acquired by doing
good In most contexts, the concept of good denotes the conduct that should be preferred when posed with a choice between possible actions. Good is generally considered to be the opposite of evil Evil, in a general sense, is defined by what it ...
deeds or earning favor in the eyes of another, often one's spouse.

Conjectures for etymology


A popular etymology is an allusion to the merit badges or six points earned by Brownies (junior Girl Guides/Girl Scouts) for carrying out good deeds. Brownies were named after a kind of mythological elf that does helpful things around the house.

Brown stamps

A popular marketing practice employed by many stores in post-World War II US was the distribution of stamps with each purchase. The number of stamps given out varied with the amount of the purchase. These stamps were collected by customers and later redeemed for household gifts. The earliest of these stamps were brown in color and known as "brown stamps" or "brown points". 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). Purportedly, the collection of these "brownie points" eventually evolved into the modern usage. The term Browniepoints is still used as a marketing practice in business today by a New Zealand power company and also used by a gift service.

George R. Brown

Another proposed etymology is that the term derives from the name of a 19th-century American railroad superintendent, George R. Brown who, in 1886, devised what was then an innovative system of merits and demerits for railroad employees on the Fall Brook Railway in New York state. Accounts of his system were published in railroad journals, and adopted by many leading U.S. railroads. American railroad employees soon began referring colloquially to "brownie points", and at some point, the term entered the general vocabulary.CPRR Museum Discussion Group

Curtis Publishing

In the 1930s, The
Curtis Publishing Company The Curtis Publishing Company, founded in 1891 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Philadelphia (colloquially known simply as Philly) is the largest city in the Commonwealth A commonwealth is a traditional English term for a political community ...
, published several magazines, including the ''Saturday Evening Post'' and the ''Ladies Home Journal''. These magazines were distributed to subscribers through a delivery network that used youths, primarily boys, to go around to the individual houses. The boys received a small commission but, in return for meeting certain sales targets, they could also receive company scrip, comprising green and brown vouchers. These vouchers were usually known as "greenies" and "brownies". Five greenies equalled one brownie. The greenies and brownies could be redeemed against goods from the company's catalogue.


The ''Oxford English Dictionary'' conjectures that this expression could also have derived from United States, U.S. military slang for sycophancy, sycophants, "wikt:brown noser, brown-nosers", while also mentioning the popular etymology that derives it from the awards system of the Brownies (Girl Guides), Brownies. The term "brownie" in the sense of "brown-noser" was in use in the 1940s. It has been suggested that the term was given impetus though its coincidence with related scatological slang.World Wide Words: Brownie points

Earliest use

The earliest published citation given in the ''Oxford English Dictionary'' dates from 1963 (when it was reported in the journal ''American Speech''), but the term is in fact somewhat older. Its frequent appearance in newspapers in the 1950s date back to the earliest known usage in 1951, where a man in the ''Los Angeles Times'' speaks of earning favor with his wife in terms of brownie points.

See also

*Barnstar *Egoboo *Karma *wikt:kudos, kudos *Social Credit System *Whuffie


External links

* {{DEFAULTSORT:Brownie Points Ethics Fictional currencies