I heard the song "Ginny Come Lately" the first time about 25 years ago when I just started to learn English. For a long time, I was confused by the grammar of this phrase: "Ginny" obviously refers to some individual but why it was "come" but not "comes".

Until, today, I came across the idiom "Johnny-come-lately", as explained in Merriam Webster:

a late or recent arrival, newcomer.

After re-reading the lyrics of "Ginny Come Lately", all of a sudden, I guess I understand the meaning of "Ginny Come Lately" but would like to confirm whether my understanding makes sense:

  1. English the language only has the idiom "Johnny-come-lately". "Ginny-come-lately" is only the title of the song.
  2. But "Ginny" should be a female name as I searched in Google, while "Johnny" is a typical male name, so when "Johnny-come-lately" refers to a (possibly male) newcomer, "Ginny-come-lately" refers to a female newcomer.
  3. Put in the lyrics, "Ginny-come-lately, sweet, sweet as can be / You may have come lately but Ginny-come-lately / You're the one for me", the singer falls in love with the female who comes into his life recently, a "newcomer", so he refers to her as "Ginny-come-lately."
  • 3
    Yes, the songwriter takes a very well-known phrase and adapts it to his own use. Your explanation is spot on. [not Ginny should be a female singer. Ginny is a female singer. ] Cheers,
    – Lambie
    Commented Feb 19, 2022 at 16:33
  • @Lambie Thanks for the comment! But I'm a bit confused by "Ginny is a female singer". Do you mean the songwriter referred to a female singer in real life whose name was Ginny? (I don't remember whose recording I heard but I think I heard Brian Hyland's version of "Ginny Come Lately.")
    – yaobin
    Commented Feb 19, 2022 at 16:36
  • @Lambie Oh, by the way, when I said "'Ginny' should be a female name as I searched ...", I was making a guess that "Ginny" is mostly used by females. (I'm not quite familiar with the western names so I could only guess based on search results.) I think this is why you said "Ginny is a female singer" in your comment, as a confirmation to my guess towards the name.
    – yaobin
    Commented Feb 19, 2022 at 16:41
  • 2
    I was talking about verb usage in your grammar where you say: Ginny should be. You mean: She must be a female. "must be" is used when you don't know what something is: This answer must be right. They must be rich. I am not questioning the content of your statements.
    – Lambie
    Commented Feb 19, 2022 at 16:41
  • 4
    'Ginny' is usually short for Virginia. Commented Feb 19, 2022 at 18:06

1 Answer 1

  1. Yes, the idiom is "Johnny-come-lately".

  2. But Johnny-come-lately does tend to refer to a man. You could say "She is a johnny-come-lately." but the gender imbalance is slightly odd.

  3. In the song the singer adapts the well-known phrase to the name of the woman in the song. The song is about a woman called "Ginny" (Short for Virginia). The change from "Ginny is a johnny-come-lately" to "She's ginny-come-lately" is a wordplay based on the similar sounds of Johnny and Ginny.

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