There is the following sentence in Jeffery Archer’s fiction, “The Fourth Estate.”:

He droppped into three newsagents on the long walk into Kingston, and purchased Time, Newsweek, and local papers. He then stopped at the first restaurant he came across, with American Express sign on its door, took a quiet table in the corner and settled down for a lengthy lunch.

Having paid for a lunch best forgotten, Townsend left restaurant and began to stroll around the town. It was the first time he had spent like a tourist since his visit to Berlin back in his student days.” – P436.

What does ‘a lunch best forgotten’ mean? Does it mean the lunch he ate was terrible rather than mediocre, and worthless to remember, or he almost forgot to pay?

According to Google Ngram, the incidences of usage of ‘best forgotten’ is significantly lower than ‘best remembered’ by almost 10 digits (best forgotten: 0.0000046 - 48 vs. best remembered: 0.000032 - 28 during 1998 through 2008), and I don’t think I’ve met this word so often.

Is ‘something best forgotten’ an idiom to mean the thing you’d better to forget, like ‘a lost love best forgotten’, ‘a failure best forgotten,’ and ‘one’s ex-wife best forgotten?

I learnt there is a hit song, “Better Best Forgotten” by Steps released in March 1999 with Wikipedia, but it doesn’t seem to be relevant to “a lunch best forgotten” here.

1 Answer 1


That idiom is used when something/someone/some event was bad and the best thing a person could do, short of wishing it never happened, is forget it.

  • 3
    It's probably that the food itself was poor - he wishes he had gone to a different/better restaurant, but I think it could mean that the company was poor - he wishes he had not had lunch with that person or those people.
    – TrevorD
    Jun 19, 2013 at 11:26
  • 1
    @TrevorD, right...lacking further context from the OP's quote, my guess is either the food itself or maybe the restaurant's service - but the author chose to summarize the experience by simply calling it a "lunch best forgotten". Jun 19, 2013 at 11:33
  • Could also be the company or the subject discussed
    – mplungjan
    Jun 19, 2013 at 14:17
  • @mplungjan, sure could. Now I'm kinda curious what made that lunch best forgettable! Lol! :-) Jun 19, 2013 at 14:33
  • @Kristina Lopez / mplungjan: As it seems the absence of context gave you inconvenience, I added the sentence preceding the initial quote to my question. The next sentence to the quote describes his walk toward the dock side and has no connection with the lunch episode. Jun 19, 2013 at 22:10

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