You might hear somebody say a sentence like “I went to visit my girlfriend’s parents with her over the weekend. Got some brownie points for that.” When I first heard a sentence like that I was very confused. I had just gotten to the point of understanding that brownies are chocolaty cookies but the points and how it all fits together completely eluded me.
So here you go: brownie points aren’t cookies (although some speculate that the expression has its origin with the brownies girl scouts sell) but an non-monetary, social credit for an effort you made. It is like a social currency, one can accrue by doing good deeds or doing somebody a favor. As in the example above, the guy visits his girl-friend’s parents although he would rather watch baseball but he goes to do her a favor – he is earning brownie points. Next time he wants a favor from her, he can cash those brownie points in.
One generally earns brownie points with family members, close friends or superiors, like bosses or teachers.
The concept of negative brownie points exists as well. That happens when you do something bad, like promising to accompany your girl-friend to the lunch at her parents house and then bailing out the last minute with a lame excuse.
Brownie points aren’t usually accounted for in a ledger, one just sort of keeps track of them.