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I sometimes get feedback saying 'overall it's good', and I always feel that's saying there's still something lacking and it isn't really that great. Am I reading too much into it?

  • "Overall", in most uses such as you appear to be considering, implies what it says -- that when everything is considered the impression is good, bad, or whatever other adjective is stated. It doesn't mean that some part is not good (or whatever), though it usually implies that the evaluation is not uniform -- some parts rate higher/lower than others. – Hot Licks Apr 26 '18 at 22:19
  • When I review a story written by someone else I might say "Overall it's pretty good. I liked how you did the thing with the red potato. If I worked at it I could find some things to complain about, but we don't need to go there." – Hot Licks Apr 26 '18 at 22:33
  • This is good.. I decided not to ask the reviewer to expand on it as I feel he should have just said. If he didn't bother, probably thinks he doesn't need to go there. Thanks. – adriooo Apr 27 '18 at 22:53
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Yes,

It's good, overall.

suggests that at least one part of it is not good, without stating this explicitly. If all parts were good, there'd be no need to say "overall".

This is an example of implicature:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Implicature

From the article: "John ate some of the cookies" does not explicitly say, but still suggests, that not all of the cookies were eaten.

  • Please add a source to support why adding the redundant 'overall' implies some parts are not good. Normally redundancy doesn't have that effect. – JJJ Apr 26 '18 at 22:29
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Overall means when all things are considered. Say I go to see a film and the next day my friend asks me how it was. I might start by saying that overall it was a good (or bad) film. This is my assessment of the film as a whole, on balance, taking everything into account.

If I started this way I would almost always then go into finer detail about the good and bad parts of the film, eg

overall I enjoyed the film, although the ending was a bit disappointing

Or

there were some funny moments but overall I wouldn't bother seeing it

If I gave or received feedback on a piece of work this way I would definitely expect the reviewer to expand on what was good and what could be improved, and I think you would be well within your rights to ask for clarification if none is immediately offered.

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majority. most. etc etc. its used in english often to give plausible dignity or excusing from 'situational' relevance. O, the sun was shining, food was lovely (BUT, i didnt want to be there), so yes, OVERALL, it was a lovely day. Its actual use in the example i show, is the original ideology of democracy. LOL. You may not agree, but can have input and opinion, wihtout offence and any rudeness, but OVERALL, be agreed, yet obviously, diplomatically opposed.

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