Brownie Points Origin

Alex Williams
6 Min Read

Ever heard the slang brownie points? Well, fret not as we are here to shine some light on brownie points origin, its meaning, and theories surrounding it.

1. Brownie Points Definition

Brownie points are merit points given for good deeds to a girl scout or a girl guide. Negative points are given for unwanted acts. In certain cases, points are even deducted from brownie points if their actions are against the morals of the group. Thus, the better you are, the higher the brownie badges you would have and vice versa.

Brownie points are nothing but an imaginary currency with no actual benefits. More or less, it is a hypothetical social currency. It also denotes a chocolate treat that looks like a piece of cake made in the oven. Nowadays, people are using this word as an idiom to praise hardworking & warm-hearted people. Read ahead to find out brownie points origin story. (See Fascinating History of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups)

2. Brownie Points Origin

  • The Brownie points origin started earlier with the girl scout named Rosebud, but the girls didn’t like the name and complained to change it, so Lord Baden-Powell changed the name from Rosebud to Brownies in 1915. Their name was adapted from the story named The Brownies written by Juliana Horatia in 1870. Lord Baden Powell was the first person to use brownie points for the children who were given an option to turn into a useful brownie. The brownies earned by the Scout girls were sewn on their uniforms, and later their rewards were given as badges.
  • In 1939, these brownie points were differently coined as brown-nose in the military during World War 2 as an insult. It became a term that meant both good and bad.
  • In 1951, Marvin Miles published an article about Brownie points, where he detailed his experiences about hearing this. He said in his article that he heard a peculiar phase that was spreading in his social circle. Being curious and surprised, he asked his colleagues about this word. They said that the brownie points are about keeping scores of one’s good deed. Over the years, it became an idiom and a phrase. (See What is Pointillism Art?)

3. Brownie Points Usage

The first use of brownie points began in the 1940s with the junior scout guides. The earned points could even be lost when doing an unfavorable deed. Brownies was the name given to girl scouts in the USA. The other idioms for a brownie point include an admiration for something good and credit for a good deed. The term started in the schoolyard and became the slang for students. This was recorded in the 1944 edition of American Speech.

In schools, Brownies refer to students who ask questions and give an answer to questions in class to impress the instructor. Often, people find it similar to the brown-noser term. (See Degradation Ceremony and its History)

4. Brownie Points Theory

The girl scout took this name from a mythical creature, brownie. It is a household spirit that originated from Scottish folklore that is said to come out at night and visit houses to perform chores and tasks while the owners of the house are asleep. This creature was known for being kind and helpful. The motto of the girl scout was to implement this creature’s character of being quietly helpful without expecting much in return. Accordingly, they would be rewarded with brownie badges. Thus, many people assumed that this is brownie points origin story. (See Top 5 Urban Slangs for Police )

5. Brownie Points Synonyms

This slang, which is used as a credit for a good deed has other synonyms as well. Its synonyms include the war of merit, pat on the back, credit, kudos, plaudits, points, praise, credibility, and nobility. The other slang includes work of praise. Researchers found that in New Zealand, slang is used as a connotation for something which is considered not very important. (See Kudos Origin and Meaning)

6. Girl Scouts & Brownie Points

Brownies are the section of girl group in the UK in the age group 7-10 years. This group was first organized by Lord Baden-Powell in 1914. These Brownies work in a small group termed as sixes. The Brownie program is called Brownie adventure which is split into 3 parts, you, community, and world. There are not only Brownie points, but also Adventure badges. To achieve them, they need to complete different activities that include going on an adventure trip, doing some activities with other groups, etc.

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