“Keeping up with the Joneses” is a common expression that most people know. However, a lot of people might not know its origin.
“Keeping up with the Joneses”
Why is the expression, “Keeping up with the Joneses” instead of keeping up with the Robinsons or Taylors or Murphys or Jacksons or Wyches or Perrys or Browns? There is a very good reason why the expression is “Keeping up with the Joneses” instead of “Keeping up with any other name.”
According to Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, “Keeping up with the Joneses” is an idiom in many parts of the English speaking world referring to the comparison to one’s neighbor as a benchmark for social caste or the accumulation of material goods. “Keeping up with the Joneses” simply means to strive to match one’s neighbors in spending and in social standing
“Keeping up with the Joneses” means maintaining an appearance of wealth for the benefit of others. Notice it is having an appearance of wealth. It does mean you have the wealth, but as long as people think you have wealth is what people seek.
People spend because their neighbor is spending. People buy what their neighbors buy where they need it or not. In other words, they must keep up with them.
Origin of the Expression
Jones is an extremely common last name in the United States. The last name Jones is meant to be a generic name for one’s neighbor. Instead of saying, “Keeping up with my neighbors,” a name is given to the neighbors. Hence, the common name Joneses.
It is a practice for neighbors to be competitive and to have what others in the neighborhood have. This puts a strain on some families.
Little do the neighbors know that the Joneses are in a mountain of debt for that big house, expensive cars, flat screen televisions in every room, and all the latest electronics. Little do that know that Mrs. Jones rents her clothes and jewelry. Little do they know that while there are trying to keep up with the Joneses, the Joneses are borrowing from Peter to pay Paul.
READ origin of other Phrases, Expressions and Sayings.