What does it mean when he says he will make an honest woman of her?
I heard this said once but don't know what it means when a man says this of a woman.
I am no expert but IMHO its a bit of slang referring to being in a serious relationship with somebody. This can also be referred to as taking someone off of the market.
Every time I have heard this, it has been meant in a manner that both uplifts and flatters the intended recipient.
i.e. "When are you going to let me make an honest woman out of you?!"
It's a throw back to the days when it was normal for a couple to get married before a relationship became sexual. So now it is used to imply that a relationship that is sexual but outside of marriage is being made honest by marriage.
It used to mean that she was pregnant and he was going to marry her. That was how it was used where I grew up. Then it just became something people, mainly guys, said when they were about to get married. I haven't heard it used for years, and didn't even know it was still used.
I'm with Healthy Pursuits and MickS on this, the woman was usually pregnant and the man who impregnated her was going to marry her to "make an honest woman of her." It essentially meant they had premarital sex and by marrying her, she wasn't promiscuous just because she got pregnant. At least that's what I understood it to mean. My parents were married in that era, and that was their definition.
MickS is correct! It is an old saying which was applied back in the days when pre-marital sex was not nearly as "Sociably acceptable" as it is today. It was believed at the time there were women men had sex with and there were women men married. Most women and their parents did not want the woman to be known as the kind men (just had sex) with. The implication in those days was if (two consenting adults) had sex somehow the woman was being "used" unless the man was planning to marry her. By marrying a woman a man was seen as making her a "honest woman" as oppose to a tramp or something along those lines.
It was a sexist era. No one was ever concerned about making a "honest man" out of us men. We were afforded the opportunity to have a complete and free single life which included sex without being looked down upon. Thankfully such judgemental thoughts have been buried by most people.
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