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What is the origin of the phrase 'On a good footing'?

Question #132407. Asked by MikeMaster99.
Last updated Sep 03 2013.
Originally posted Sep 03 2013 2:10 AM.

froggyx star
Answer has 1 vote
froggyx star
17 year member
114 replies avatar

Answer has 1 vote.
"During the days of trade apprentice-ships, when a newcomer - on the first time he put his foot over the threshold of his workplace - was expected to pay for drinks for all. If he was generous then he had had a good footing."


Sep 03 2013, 2:13 AM
sportsherald star
Answer has 4 votes
Currently Best Answer
sportsherald star
13 year member
695 replies avatar

Answer has 4 votes.

Currently voted the best answer.
While there is a site provided to back up the above derivation, it strikes me as the characteristic overly elaborate story common to a "false etymology," especially when the literal meanings of footing provide far more intuitive and straightforward sense. link

The Oxford English Dictionary defines "footing" as:
1 (one's footing) a secure grip with one's feet:
he suddenly lost his footing
2 [in singular] the basis on which something is established or operates:
attempts to establish the shop on a firm financial footing
the position or status of a person in relation to others:
the suppliers are on an equal footing with the buyers
3 (usually footings) the foundations of a wall, usually with a course of brickwork wider than the base of the wall." link

While the second definition simply explains the expression in question, the other two, "a secure grip with one's feet" and "the foundations of a wall" both provide a logical basis for a metaphor of being on or starting from a safe and solid place.

Sep 03 2013, 9:44 PM
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