As I was thinking about my nephew's upcoming graduation, I was also thinking of how proud we are of all of his accomplishments, but especially this - a PhD in Mathematics - Wow! The expression "Proud as Punch" came to mind which then began to ruminate in the "little gray cells" - what in the world does that really mean? This time the research revealed a disturbing origin for the expression which may lead to my striking it from my daily use forever.
"Proud as Punch", also expressed as "Pleased as Punch", means to be openly and proudly pleased with oneself or a particular outcome. It refers to Punch of the Punch and Judy Show, a traditional English puppet show, and the pride and pleasure he derived from murdering all the other characters in the show - a fact with which I was not acquainted.
According to The Phrase Finder,
In this puppet play Mr. Punch, left to mind the baby by his wife Judy, kills it; then, when Judy returns, bludgeons her to death as well. He is arrested and thrown in prison but escapes, and proceeds to kill a policeman, a doctor, a lawyer, the hangman, death and the Devil. He does all this with immense glee, each time crying in his traditional squeaky voice, "That's the way to do it!"
Mr. Punch derives from the character called "Polichinello" in the Italian commedia dell'arte; these puppet plays were introduced to England in the 1660s ... They are still popular as wholesome entertainment for children, especially at the seaside.
Did I read that correctly, "wholesome entertainment for children"? How could this be true in any generation? What an example! Does anyone other than me conjure a bit of Sweeney Todd, when you read this?
If you know more or can enlighten us more positively on this expression, please do so by leaving a Comment here.