Does the idiom "to a fare-thee-well" have any currency in modern day AE speech and writing, or does it have sort of an old fashioned feel to it?


If indeed it's in fairly common use, is it appropriate for whatever register?

Also --in expressions of suitability or appearance -- would it sound like as good an option as "like a charm", "like a glove", "a merveille", and "perfectly well"?

Consider the following examples:

This jacket fits you to a fare-thee-well. source>/

That's a terrific looking T-shirt. It fits you to a fare-thee-well. source>/

And she was dressed to please in a below-the-knee filmy skirt and a v-necked blouse that fit her to a fare-thee-well. source>/

They're fully lined, watch pocketed, and will fit you to a fare-thee-well. source>/

Neat nylon pull-ons knit to fit you to a fare-thee-well. source>/

Godberg's description fits him to a fare thee well. source>/

Cat Ballou (genial drunk) was quite a nice picture in his tight jeans, which fit him to a fare-thee-well. source>/

They are beautiful, and fit me to a fare-thee-well. source>/

Suits me to a fare-thee-well! source>/

...off his triumphant role in the enchanting Moonlighy Kingdom, is back to his macho, smirking ways and the role suits him to a fare thee well. source>/

  • 1
    It's a "folksy, mock-archaic" US colloquialism. Apparently the more "modern" form fare-you-well was actually more common a century ago, but obviously that just doesn't sound "quaint" enough to the latter-day revivalists. Mar 8, 2014 at 21:45
  • @FumbleFingers My Norfolk grandparents used to say 'fare-yer-well' at parting.
    – WS2
    Mar 9, 2014 at 0:39
  • I'm wondering where you heard or saw this to even suspect that it might be current usage. I've never seen it before in my life and wouldn't have figured out the meaning from context – I would have assumed it was an error! Mar 9, 2014 at 1:10
  • @BraddSzonye it's quoted as an Americanisms in most comprehensive bilingual dictionaries out here.
    – Elian
    Mar 9, 2014 at 1:14
  • Perhaps you need a resource that does a better job of presenting current information rather than comprehensive information? Again, I recommend asking for help on English Language & Usage Meta. Mar 9, 2014 at 1:19

1 Answer 1


"Fare-thee-well" is not used in modern AE. Instead of "to a fare-thee-well" we would just say "fairly well".

Notatation from FumbleFingers:

According to OED, the US colloquialism "fare-you-well" dates back to at least 1884, defined as to the last point; to the utmost degree; completely. From which I'm tempted to suspect the original such usage was an allusion to the fact that "Farewell" is often the last word (we still say today that such-and-such is "the last word" [in high fashion, or whatever]). But the (very limited) "revival" in recent years might easily be influenced by assonance with very/fairly well.

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    It doesn't mean the same thing. And never did, as far as I can see. Mar 8, 2014 at 22:47
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    @EdwinAshworth - maybe not by definition but by usage, yes. Mar 8, 2014 at 22:49
  • You can give examples where "to a fare-thee-well" is obviously being used to mean "tolerably well' rather than 1. [to a] condition [/in a manner] of utmost perfection: played the part of the martyr to a fare-thee-well. 2. [to t]he most extreme degree: beat his opponent in the match to a veritable fare-thee-well. AHDEL Mar 8, 2014 at 22:54
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    @EdwinAshworth - I hear "fairl well" used a lot. If someone said, "That suit fits you fairly well." That would be a compliment and means the suit fits really well (perhaps perfectly but what is that). If someone said, "We beat that team fairly well last game." I would take that to mean they blew them out and the game wasn't close. Using the terminology of perfect is odd for a lot of examples where there is no perfection. If a soccer team beats another 10-0 it's not perfection if the other team sucks. Maybe they beat a great team 3-0 and played closer to perfection. Mar 8, 2014 at 23:00
  • @RyeBread "fairly well" may be used in this sense in consonance with "fare-thee-well", uh?
    – Elian
    Mar 9, 2014 at 2:23

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