Origin of "clever clogs"?

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barmy | 13:51 Tue 10th Apr 2007 | Phrases & Sayings
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What is the origin of the phrase "clever clogs". I assume it is related to mill work but why?




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Actually, the original version was 'clever-boots', so it needn't have anything to do with mill-workers specifically. My guess in fact is that the 'clogs' version turned up only because of the alliteration of the two 'cl' sounds. People have long created such repetitive words or word-sounds...hence such things as 'silly-billy', 'higgledy-piggledy' and so on. Having said that, I've no idea where the cleverness and boots connection came from!
I decided to do a litle more research and discovered that 'boots' was just an alternative way of saying 'fellow' as far back as the early 1600s. Thus there was a 'smooth boots' meaning a flatterer. By about 1700, the word 'sly-boots' had appeared, meaning a cunning or crafty person. Thereafter, the 'clever clogs' version appeared, probably for reasons I suggested in my earlier answer.

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