"simon-pure," a hyphenated adjective phrase, and "Simon Pure", a noun phrase with no hyphen) are descriptions with two contradictory meanings, both based on the characters of Susannah Centlivre's 1717 satirical play, "A Bold Stroke for a Wife." The description can mean either:

  1. Completely and genuinely pure; or
  2. hypocritically virtuous

The contradiction stems from the plot of the play: a young man (Colonel Fainwell or Feignwell) wants to marry a young woman (Anne Lovely) who has four older guardians: Sir Philip Modelove, an old dandy and ladies' man; Mr. Periwinkle, an antique collector who doesn't think much of women; Mr. Tradelove, a stockbroker; and Mr. Obadiah Prim, a hypocritical Quaker. Each guardian has different ideas about who would be the perfect husband for Anne, and so the Colonel has to do a lot of acting to convince each one that he fits their definition of the perfect man for their charge: he's a Dutch trader when he talks to the stockbroker; with Sir Philip, Fainwell he's a French gentleman; with Prim, Fainwell he's an overly honorable and virtuous Simon Pure; and with Periwinkle the curious collector, Fainwell disguises himself as a well-travelled man. However, at the end of the play the real Simon Pure who Fainwell has been impersonating shows up and ruins Fainwell's disguise. "I do affirm that I am the REAL SIMON PURE," he says (Observant Quakers traditionally "affirm" things rather than swear to them because of the prohibition against swearing oaths in Matthew 5.)

Thus the "real Simon Pure" is a true and virtuous man, and the jewelry designers, video production companies, and such who use the name now (according to a Google search) are probably alluding to that meaning. However, the false Simon Pure is obviously (to the audience) a faker, and he's trying to get on the good side of Prim, a supposedly religious man who still asks a girl to "show you a little, little bit of her delicious bubby." This is how the undertone of hypocrisy became a part of the phrase "simon-pure" for some users, though the use to mean "genuine" is more common.

There seem to be at least four bands using the same "Simon Pure" or in one case "The Simon Pure" -- it's not obvious which sense of the phrase they prefer, except maybe for the South Carolina Christian rock and Pennsylvania Christian metal bands who have both chosen the name.

The William Simon Brewery in Buffalo, New York, made a beer called "Simon Pure"; Simon bought the brewery in 1896 and it closed in 1971, though the brand was made at another brewery until 1980. Merchandise with the Simon Pure logo seems to be fairly commonly collected, judging by the collectors' sites and auctions found in another Google search.


Si"mon-pure" (?), a.

Genuine; true; real; authentic; -- a term alluding to the comedy character Simon Pure, who is impersonated by another and is obliged to prove himself to be the "real Simon Pure."


© Webster 1913.

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