an honest woman

Discussion in 'English Only' started by minhduc, Jan 13, 2018.

  1. minhduc Senior Member

    Hanoi, Vietnam
    I am reading Life after life by Kate Atkinson. Her sister-in-law loved a married man and got pregnant.

    ‘If only the bounder hadn’t been married,’ Hugh said. ‘He could have made an honest woman of my sister.’
    ‘An honest woman?’ Sylvie mused. ‘Is there such a thing?’

    I wonder what does the meaning of "an honest woman" in this case. Why does Sylvie ask if there was such a thing?
    Please help me. Thank you.
  2. boozer Senior Member

    She is going to have a child out of the wedlock, as fornicators do. Fornicators are not 'honest' people. They are 'dishonest' for many reasons, one of which being that they have stolen someone else's wife or husband...
  3. andrewg927 Senior Member

    Denver CO
    English - American
    Women can have a bad reputation of being dishonest (It's a bad stereotype).
  4. Tyrion Lann

    Tyrion Lann Senior Member

    New Delhi
    INDIA -Hindi
    "He could have made an honest woman of my sister"
    Please, elaborate this line.
    Why has "of my sister" been used?
  5. Barque Senior Member

    Yes, or that they'd had illicit sex.
    You have to read the phrase as a whole: honest woman of my sister. It's an idiomatic phrase that means: He could have made my sister "honest", or respectable (by marrying her).
  6. Hildy1 Senior Member

    English - US and Canada
  7. RedwoodGrove

    RedwoodGrove Senior Member

    Northern California
    English, USA
    According to Etymology Online the expression goes back to 1620 and the dual connotation of "honest" (the modern definition plus "virtuous") goes back to c. 1400. (!)
  8. minhduc Senior Member

    Hanoi, Vietnam
    Thank all of you!

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