piece of goods, a

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piece of goods, a

Spoken either humorously or disparagingly, a woman. Literally this phrase long meant a portion of cloth, but sometime before about 1750 it began to be applied to a human being. Thomas Gray put it negatively in a letter of 1751: “That agreeable creature . . . will visit you soon, with that dry piece of goods, his wife.” But Fanny Burney was more positive: “His daughter—as droll a piece of goods as one might wish to know” (Early Diary, 1776). See also piece of work.
See also: of, piece
References in classic literature ?
She could elbow her way if need be; she had learned to clutch a piece of goods and hold it and stick to it with persistence and determination till her turn came to be served, no matter when it came.
It was not without great fear and trepidation that little Nell slipped off her shoes and gliding through the store-room of old curiosities, where Mr Brass--the ugliest piece of goods in all the stock--lay sleeping on a mattress, passed into her own little chamber.
Then the youth told him of the piece of good luck that had befallen him, and asked him for the hand of his beautiful daughter.
It was the first piece of good news we had received for a long time."
She will have in me a man already pretty well off, and a rapidly rising man, and a man of some distinction: it is a piece of good fortune for her, but she is worthy of good fortune.
It seemed as though some piece of good fortune had come to pass after the doctor had gone.
It was a great temptation, and for a while I thought it the greatest piece of good fortune.
'I've done you a piece of good service, Nancy,' he began: then seeing me, he acknowledged my presence by a slight bow.
Seeing then, I said, that we are no great wits, I think that we had better adopt a method which I may illustrate thus; suppose that a short-sighted person had been asked by some one to read small letters from a distance; and it occurred to some one else that they might be found in another place which was larger and in which the letters were larger-- if they were the same and he could read the larger letters first, and then proceed to the lesser--this would have been thought a rare piece of good fortune.
"It's a piece of good fortune sent from Heaven," said Athos, evidently much relieved.
When our travellers arrived at Brussels, in which their regiment was quartered, a great piece of good fortune, as all said, they found themselves in one of the gayest and most brilliant little capitals in Europe, and where all the Vanity Fair booths were laid out with the most tempting liveliness and splendour.
Towards the end of his second term as in-patients' clerk a piece of good fortune befell Philip.
If you ever need a piece of good dry firewood, remember me."
"This is a piece of good fortune that I hardly hoped for," said Hardyman, his cool, quiet, dreary way of speaking quickened as usual, in Isabel's presence.