In many languages, such as French, and my beloved mother tongue Romanian, it is common to say 'Succes!' to someone as an encouragement, this being a replacement for 'Good luck' for those who do not believe in luck. To my knowledge, the French also say, for instance, 'beaucoup de succes'.

This is also used as a written encouragement, for instance at the end of a written test's subject statements.

Is this also true in English?

  • Hi, Petru, and welcome to El&U. To my knowledge (AmE), we don't usually wish people "Success!" We usually wish them good luck (still). We toast people with all kinds of well wishes, including to your success. Even though many of us don't believe in luck per se, we still use that phrase. – anongoodnurse May 17 '14 at 18:11

No, not really. It's unusual to say "Success!" or "Victory!" or similar single word as an encouragement. There are a host of short phrases used for this purpose - the most common are "Good luck," "Go get 'em" (often competitive context) "Kick butt," "Knock 'em dead" (often performance context), "Break a leg" (almost always acting context), "Best wishes" (usually in a letter), etc. There's a long tail of "validation" type phrases ("You can do it!") that appear on refrigerator magnets everywhere.

"Godspeed" has fallen out of vogue since there's those who don't believe in God, but I know of no one who seriously objects to "Good luck" as a saying. There's always someone with a pet philosophy and chip on their shoulder out there on the Interwebs, but in general "good luck" goes completely unremarked among 99.99% of Americans, even if they would describe themselves as not believing in luck in a rational sense, just as "Goodbye" (orig. from "God Be With You") is used by even the staunchest atheists. The only retort to "Good luck" heard fits under the category of general boasting, e.g. "I don't need luck when I'm this good!" But that's not a serious objection to use of the term, in fact that type usually appreciates having the opening to beat their chest.

  • +1 - I was thinking of knock 'em dead as well. – anongoodnurse May 17 '14 at 18:14
  • "Success" gets used as a (drinking) toast, but even there it's often "To Success!". – Wayfaring Stranger May 18 '14 at 2:48
  • I think "godspeed" has gained connotations of terrible consequences if you fail. Not something you want them to think about when your message is more along the lines of a hopeful "good luck!", which would explain why it fell out of use. – Izkata May 18 '14 at 4:31
  • I'm one who seriously objects to "Good luck" as a saying, and I know lots of others who do as well. Your answer would be better served not including supposition or opinion, and just stick to the question asked. "Is 'Success!' ever used as a spoken/written encouragement?" "Nope. The closest would be, 'To your success,' when toasting." – Huperniketes May 18 '14 at 5:01

While 'success!' used after a completed task, ere the action, is obsolete. Is it that Americans have the 'sink or swim' or 'pull yourself up by your bootstraps' philosophy?

Notably, Tim Gunn from Project Runway constantly uses make it work! to encourage competitors while they attempt to create and produce original clothing, and this usage has crept into fashion -yes, a pun.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.