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Idiom: Friday-Faced

Defining the Georgian phrase of being Friday Faced

The origin is from a 1592 London pamphlet by Rogert Greene titled, “Greenes, Groats-worth of Witte,” and was soon seen again in Brian Melbancke’s 1593 novel Philotimus, after which it gained popularity until its peak usage during the Regency.


The term comes from the labourer’s weekly schedule of only having one day of break, Sunday, which was not exactly a day off work considering the church duties required, as well as the activity restrictions. Saturday was a typical workday, just as every day of the week, and didn’t become a half day off until 1842 and a full day off until 1930, although that depended on the type of work, obviously. Friday was a religious fasting day, leaving workers famished and low on needed energy for another long workday on Saturday.

TGIF is a late 20th century concept, for before we celebrated Friday as the last workday of the week before a restful weekend, workers experienced Friday as a nightmarish workday of having to labour without sustenance only to need full energy the next day, which they knew they wouldn’t have. It was a day to dread.


And thus, we have “Friday-faced” to mean someone who is or appears to be glum, gloomy, or depressed. It can be used in a variety of ways, though, rather than to be taken literally. Someone who is being temperamental, for example, can jokingly be called Friday-faced. Plenty of fun ways to use this idiom without taking it quite so literal or even in consideration of its origin.


To read the Melbancke's novel, enjoy it here from Oxford Text Archive.


To read the Greene pamphlet, enjoy it here from Luminarian.

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