Does the phrase "good effort" imply failure? Like, even though you failed, it's good that you gave it your best shot?

I'm looking for a phrase like "good effort" that does not imply failure. It would be nice if I could find a similar phrase that implies success. This kind of phrase exists in Japanese, but does it exist in English? When someone tries hard and wins, we seem to concentrate on the win, and see the effort as secondary. But the Japanese seem to value hard work over easy wins.

  • "Succesful endeavor" is quite common.
    – Graffito
    Feb 15, 2016 at 9:19

9 Answers 9


A little less formal: Attaboy!


"Good effort" is normally a complimentary phrase. However, it is also used sarcastically, such as when an athlete makes very little effort in a point or play.

"Nice try" has a similar meaning, but is not usually used in a sarcastic manner.

  • 4
    In my experience, "nice try" is used only for failure, though - for example, when speaking to a child who's tried hard but whose solution to a problem isn't correct or who has missed a target each time when throwing a ball. The "try" would be a failed attempt. The OP mentioned looking for a phrase that compliments the effort but doesn't imply failure.
    – aedia λ
    Sep 28, 2011 at 14:35
  • 1
    In my experience "nice try" is almost always used sarcastically, implying someone is trying to do something nefarious. For example: "Nice try, but we caught you red handed!"
    – Jez
    Oct 27, 2015 at 23:33

I would say "Good job" best fits this idea; it definitely implies success (if we're not using it sarcastically) and half-implies that the person put in a lot of effort.

If you want to be a bit more explicit and verbose, go with "You sure earned that victory!", which means that it was only due to the person's great effort that success occurred.


The meaning of 'good effort' varies according to context. 'Well done' is usually, if not invariably, unambiguous.


Good work and nice work both emphasize the effort someone exerted.

Though typically used for successes, both phrases can be used after failed attempts, as well.


While good effort might be vague as to the chances of success, best effort is stronger without necessarily being completely assured of success.

If someone puts in an almost super-human effort, it can be called Herculean effort. This implies success.


You can try:

  • Excellent work!
  • You solved that problem and it was brilliant!
  • The workmanship is high quality (referring to hand-crafted items)

for e.g. the application will be processed on a 'good effort' basis.

The term GOOD EFFORT denotes: "in good faith". Here, it is not mandatory to process the application in good faith, but is being done in order to dodge, avoidable hardship by the applicant.

This kind of phrase exists in English too!! Hope this will suffice the demand of the creator of this question in respect of phrase like "good effort" that does not imply failure.


Name.Osi, glory. A FINAL YEAR STUDENT.F.E.C.(T) OMOKU ACCOUNTING DEPARTMENT. IN BUISNESS Ok. Since the phrase ''good effort'' does imply ''tried'' or ''going somewhere'', thats ok by me. Atleast, it does not totally mean ''failure'' rather ''put more effort'' its has a great impact or message or signal to send out. To the person or pple involved. I guess it will go a long way!. In enabling one to sit up or ether to think critically b4 execution next time. Thanks

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