I'm sure most of us are familiar with a shrinking violet as being an excessively shy person; however, while reading from Flappers to Rappers: History of American Youth Slang Dr. Dalzell defines a "gussie" as 1920s slang for an excessively shy individual. Any ideas why this may be?
2I can see that you don’t know Gussie Fink-Nottle in particular — not to mention Gussie Mannering-Phipps — or you wouldn’t even ask. :) Fink-Nottle is “[d]escribed as "a teetotal bachelor with a face like a fish", he wears horn-rimmed spectacles and is a noted newt fancier.”– tchrist ♦Mar 5, 2014 at 2:17
Wow, "all gussied up" worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-gus1.htm looks to be a 1960's thing: books.google.com/ngrams/… I had no idea!– Wayfaring StrangerMar 5, 2014 at 4:00
Both the OED and Professor Jonathan Lighter (in the Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang) point tentatively to an earlier use of Gussy or Gussie as a term for an effeminate or weak person. This appeared in the US at the end of the nineteenth century.