prunes and prisms

prunes and prisms

Intentionally formal and/or prudish speech or action. The phrase originated in Charles Dickens' novel Little Dorrit as an example of proper speech. When you talk to your grandmother, stick to prunes and prisms so that you don't offend her. If you want to become a proper lady, practice saying "prunes and prisms"!
See also: and, prune

prunes and prisms

used to denote a prim and affected speech, look, or manner.
In Charles Dickens's Little Dorrit ( 1857 ), Mrs General advocates speaking this phrase aloud in order to give ‘a pretty form to the lips’.
See also: and, prune