Imagine person A asks person B, how B is doing. B is doing bad and he or she is upset with the question (after all, nobody wants to admit that he or she is screwing his or her life up).

What kind of a phrase can B use in order to tell A that

  • he is doing badly,
  • he doesn't like to be asked the bad state of his or her affairs and
  • he doesn't care about being polite?

In Russian, there is a phrase "My things are as white as soot" (white means good, black - bad). Since the response rhymes with the question, that sentence has a particularly sarcastic tone.

I'm looking for something similar in English.

closed as primarily opinion-based by FumbleFingers, tchrist, Edwin Ashworth, Drew, anongoodnurse Jan 27 '15 at 4:59

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  • Focus on Britain. We do not really do hyped-up greetings. How are you today? Fair to middling or Moderate are about the most enthusiastic responses as I ever give. – WS2 Jan 26 '15 at 8:23
  • @WS2 Fair to middling means from below average to average, right? – DP_ Jan 26 '15 at 8:24
  • Something like that. It is not a widespread expression being local to the region of East Anglia, and a bit outmoded. But for me it expresses a suitable response to inane enthusiasm. – WS2 Jan 26 '15 at 8:26
  • 2
    You can always do what millennia of women have successfully done to taunt and torture men who ask them what’s wrong: glower at the asker for a bit, look very angry, and then say from behind gritted teeth, “I’M FINE, THERE’S NOTHING WRONG, I’M NOT ANGRY!”. Or even better, “Well, if you have to ask, then I’m not even going to tell you!”, followed by an offended huff. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jan 26 '15 at 12:38
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    A curt "Been better!" is one possibility. Expressions like "Not bad" or "Fair to middlin'" are common "normal" responses in the US (though perhaps for folks who are a tad abnormal), and hence don't convey a negative tone unless spoken a "certain way". – Hot Licks Jan 26 '15 at 13:00

If you are like me, you probably think that people constantly asking 'How are you today?' is more appropriate to the asylum than the work-place.

Beyond a certain age one no longer feels the necessity to engage with such hype and inanity. The sort of responses I give will be of roughly of the following type. Fair to middling, Moderate to fair, Mustn't grumble, Bearing up under the strain or Same as I was yesterday.

Of course if things really are bad, there is nothing to stop you saying bloody awful.


In the US, the expression: "Same shit, different day," is quite popular. To avoid being rude in mixed company, the response is "S-S-D-D".

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