I came across with a phrase, “clutch one’s pearls” in the headline of the Hill (January 6). It reads :
“Dem lawmaker: ‘Kind of odd’ for GOP to be ‘clutching their pearls’ over profane call to impeach Trump” and followed by the following paragraph: Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I) on Sunday scoffed at the controversy surrounding Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s (D-Mich.) profane vow to impeach President Trump, accusing Republicans critical of the freshman lawmaker’s comment of hypocrisy.
I was unfamiliar with the phrase, “clutch one’s pearls,” and I found the definition of “clutch your pearls” in Cambridge Dictionary as follows:
Disapproving to behave as if you are very shocked, especially when you show more shock than you really feel in order to show that you think something is morally bad.
Google Ngram doesn’t accommodate neither clutch your pearls or one’s pearls.
So my questions:
From around what time this phrase started to be in use?
What is the origin of this phrase?
- Is it a popular phrase?
- Can a man – males seldom wear a pearl necklace - use this phrase in such a way as, “I clutched my pearls when I heard Tom was fired from his office yesterday”?