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What does this phrase mean? And in what cases is it appropriate to use it?

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I have noticed an odd use case for this expression in informal speech here in Florida. When I mention that I have helped someone (economically, in a task, etc) I sometimes get the reply good for you! The word usage makes it sound like I am being mocked for showing off my generosity yet the tone does not seem to express sarcasm. –  Jaime Soto Nov 30 '10 at 16:17
    
@Jaime : generally you can tell by the tone used whether or not it was meant to be mocking (if it sounds like "Whoop-dee-do", chances are the person was being rude/sarcastic about it). –  Will Nov 30 '10 at 17:00
    
I dislike the term. When someone says that to me, my interpretation is that they are really saying they think they're superior to you and what you have just told them you do or have done helps you to be a better person but you'll never be as good as they are. I typically have a very negative opinion of people who use that term, for they have a superiority complex. –  user67604 Mar 3 at 6:45

6 Answers 6

up vote 13 down vote accepted

Two phrases:

  • "X is good for you." This just means something is healthy for you, beneficial for you, etc.
  • "Good for you!"
    • This can be used in seriousness, such as Bruno said. It can either mean "Congratulations!" and "That's great!", or as a word of praise.
    • The phrase can also be used sarcastically, especially if delivered with an overly enthusiastic tone. In this case, it carries the connotation of, "Wow, that's great. Do you want a pat on the back or something?"
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"a pat on the back" is not the phrase I've heard most ... my recollection from years back is the common phrase that usually followed "Good for you!" when being used sarcastically was something along the lines of "That's great - do you want a cookie?" Another was "Would you like an award?" –  Will Nov 30 '10 at 17:05
    
@Will, or "Do you want a medal?" :) –  Benjol Feb 23 '11 at 5:39
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The sarcastic usage can often be associated with one being a bit sour that, while the event in question is probably good on the whole or for the one proclaiming it's occurance, it has no effect or even a bad effect on oneselves. –  Vincent Vancalbergh Mar 25 '11 at 10:10

"Good For You" illustrates ignorance and arrogance. This is a way for the phrase user to end the conversation because the new information has exceeded their narrow expectations. I often get this response and always when someone has made a generalization about me, but then they discover who I am or what I have done so now it's "Good for You". I find it annoying and belittling, I know that pompous and judgmental people's narrow minded perceptions should not matter, but stereotypes will always continue with ignorance and arrogance. My constant example: "What do you do there (living in the hick community)?" "I teach at the college and opened my own business" "Good for You". What I want to say: Yes... good for me, surprised and rocked your little brain... stop generalizing!

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Good for you... –  Em1 Mar 31 at 10:50

Yes, it can sometimes mean: "I really don't care".

For example if you let somebody know of a sexual conquest you made while out last Saturday night, you might expect to hear it.

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Why are sexual experiences “conquests”? That sounds far too close to abuse and violation for my tastes. –  tchrist Aug 14 '13 at 3:26
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This looks a lot like a reply to another answer. Please edit so that your answer stands on its own. –  MετάEd Aug 14 '13 at 4:00

"Good for you" generally has an abrasive expression in itself. When someone boasts too much about one's qualities which are of least inclination for the other person, then he would say "Good for you".

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I would disagree, "Good for you!", depending on the context and tone, can (and often does) mean that the speaker is genuinely pleased for the person to whom he is speaking. –  Matt Jan 5 '12 at 9:26

Good for you is usually used to express approval toward a person, but in some contexts it has a different meaning.

I'm taking my driving test next month.
Good for you!

I have a new car.
Good for you.

The meaning of the more generic phrase good for is "having a advantageous effect on".

Eating spinaches is good for you.

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Definition from Cambridge Dictionaries Online:

Good for you! (Australian also Good on you!)

used to show approval for someone's success or good luck.

You passed your exam - good for you!

Two additional examples that I extracted from the COCA:

1.

I don't think you would want to know either. Good for you for not knowing.

2.

He's going to make lots and lots of money! Good for you, congratulations!

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+1: I'll only add that my mother always said, "Eat your broccoli. It's good for you." But somehow that didn't really help. –  Robusto Nov 30 '10 at 14:34
    
@Robusto, yes, in that context, "[something ] is good for you" means "[something] is beneficial to you". Another example: "Is running good for you?" –  b.roth Nov 30 '10 at 14:46

protected by tchrist Mar 31 at 10:49

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