Gussied up

The phrase gussied up is considered an American idiom. We will examine the meaning of the idiomatic phrase gussied up, where it may have come from, and some examples of its use in sentences.

Gussied up means dressed up in a garish way, overly smartened up, applying heavy makeup and wearing flamboyant clothes. The expression gussied up is sometimes used humorously, but is not considered a compliment. If someone is overdressed in a manner that is too fancy for the occasion, or is so overdressed that she almost appears to be clownish, she is gussied up. The expression gussied up seems to have first appeared in the United States in the 1930s. Some believe that the term gussied up is derived from the slang word Gussie that was used in Australia and the United States at the turn of the nineteenth century. A Gussie was a weak or effeminate person, derived from the nickname for Augustus. Note that in this case, the word Gussie is capitalized. The expression seems to have taken on a new life in the 1940s when American tennis player “Gorgeous Gussie” Moran appeared at Wimbledon in frilled panties. Related phrases are gussy up, gussies up, gussying up. The phrase gussied up is hyphenated only if it is used as an adjective before a noun.

Examples

Why it’s that creaky old Hollywood property all gussied up in a new wig and a fresh set of false teeth, here with designs to take up residence again in our pop-culture-loving hearts. (The Seattle Times)

The Tea House on Los Rios is gussied up for the holidays with twinkling lights, wreaths and stockings. (The Los Angeles Times)

They’re gussied up in tuxedos and tails, when they used to be fit for strapping a deer to the hood and sticking the boat in the water. (The Providence Journal)

All gussied up, the play still lives and dies by its celebration of technical brilliance—I would trade all the proscenium stages in America for one pout, one perfectly-timed tilt of the eyebrow, from the great Pamela Chermansky, who plays Fancy Clown. (The Chicago Reader)