I have heard it for the first time and when I looked it up on dictionaries, definitions say it means " to have had a long and fulfilling life or career". I think it is more a British slang.If I don't remember wrongly, in the business context I heard it was used more like in the sense of " I am doing well" when someone mentioned how successful his new start-up company was.

I'd like to ask if it can be used for short time occasions or it is always used to refer to a lifetime success.

For example, you organized your friend's wedding ceremony which may last one week and if someone asks " how is it going" by referring to the ceremony and everybody thinks the ceremony was perfect , can you say " I have had a good innings " in the sense " we are doing well" to refer to the ceremony.

Can someone who is 30 and has a very good career say " I have had a good innings" ?

And is it common in the USA?

  • There is no such thing as a slang, you realize. – tchrist Sep 17 '15 at 0:27
  • @tchrist No slang? Y'all just ain't shittin' me? – deadrat Sep 17 '15 at 0:40
  • I wonder why this wasn't asked on ELL? – J.R. Sep 18 '15 at 0:59

It's a cricket metaphor, so it's not common outside cricket-playing nations.

Cricket works that you bat until you're out, then you stop (unlike, say, a baseball innings). For that reason you would almost always use it about something that is over. A life is the most common period of time, but someone who had, say, a successful period in charge of a company and was then ousted might use it too.

  • 3
    Very interesting. As an American, if someone said he had had a good inning (singular), I would take it as a baseball metaphor— a humble way of acknowledging recent success or good luck, but also acknowledging it as impermanent, whereas a good innings (plural) isn't grammatical unless you are familiar with cricket. – choster Sep 17 '15 at 0:20
  • 1
    I would say that you always use it for something that is finished. In the metaphorical sense, it is never used for something in progress. If someone dies aged 20 then no-one would say 'She had a good innings'. That would be an insult to the mourners. If a man dies at the age of 90, then he has lived a long time and therefore it is appropriate to say he had a good innings. In terms of a life, a good innings is a long and healthy life. In terms of a business, it is only used if the person's career (or the business itself) is coming to an end - after along and successful period of operation. – chasly from UK Sep 17 '15 at 0:55
  • When you get up to bat, at cricket, you 'have a good innings' if you stay a long time, batting. The expression 'he had a good innings' is used when something like work, or a lifetime, has gone on a long time, but then ended. It is used mostly in those contexts. – Jelila Jan 18 '18 at 4:02

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.