Brownie Points: What Does the Helpful Phrase “Brownie Points” Mean?

Last Updated on March 23, 2020

The interesting idiom “brownie points” is used frequently in everyday conversation. If you were thinking these meant some kind of actual points that were recorded on a chart somewhere you don’t know about, then you would be incorrect. Stick around and read on to find out the real meaning of the phrase and the story of its origin. Further reading will lead you to some example sentences and conversations where this phrase is used in the correct context in the hopes that it will help you to better understand the phrase. Finally, when you arrive at the end, you will discover some synonymous words or phrases that you can use in place of this term to convey the same message.

Brownie Points

Brownie Points Meaning

This idiomatic phrase means an intangible award that is given to someone for doing something good for someone or for doing things that please someone else.

Origin of this idiom

No one is exactly sure where this term came from, however, there are multiple theories.

Some believe that it came from a mythological type of fairy known as a brownie. These brownies were said to do good and helpful things for people. Their actions combined with their name is thought to be one possible origin.

Some believe it was taken from the Brownies, which is a group like the Girl Scouts for younger females in the 7-10 year age range. This group of girls is assigned to do good deeds while expecting little gratitude in return other than earning badges, aka points.

Another theory suggests that the phrase originated around the same time as “brown noser” which was used to denote someone who was a kiss-up and always doing good things to fall in someone’s good graces.

Lastly, another theory suggests that the term came from vouchers that were issued during wartime to people to ration food. The vouchers were color-coded. The red or brown vouchers for meat would be the most sought after so people would do all they could to earn these vouchers. Whether it is one or all of these combined, no one is certain.

“Brownie Points” Examples

Sentence Examples

  • Husbands often do everything in their power to earn brownie points with their wives so she won’t get as upset when they do something wrong.
  • I am hoping to earn some brownie points with my instructor for the essay that I just wrote.
  • They’re just trying to score brownie points with politicians.
  • Stop trying to get brownie points with the teacher!
  • I’m not doing it just to get brownie points.

Conversation Examples

A conversation between two friends.

  • Friend 1: How can I earn some brownie points with my wife? I am in the doghouse again for staying out too late last night.
  • Friend 2: Buy her some flowers and some jewelry. Take her to dinner at a nice place and then give them both to her.
  • Friend 1: That sounds like a very good idea. Thanks mate!

A conversation between two co-workers.

  • Co-worker 1: Diane is a brown noser!
  • Co-worker 2: I agree with you. She is always going out of her way to please the boss and earn brownie points from him.

Synonyms for “Brownie Points”

There are many synonymous words or phrases that you could use to use in place of this idiomatic phrase. Some of the words or phrases you could use include:

  • Figurative commendation
  • An imaginary pat on the head
  • Intangible points

What does “Brownie Points” Mean? | Picture

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