In a recent link the phrase "It's a good job that..." is used. I take it to mean the same as It's a good thing that ... but I've never in my almost 50 years of English heard job used like that before. Word-wise it makes no sense to me that it even came into being.

In what part of the world is that expression used, and how did it get started?

1 Answer 1


The OED’s definition 5 of job is ‘A state of affairs, a situation, a set of circumstances. Frequently with modifying adjective, as bad, good, etc.’ The earliest citation supporting this definition is from 1690:

'Twas an ill jobb for one Misfortune so soon to fall upon the neck of one another.

The first citation of good job is from Gilbert and Sullivan’s ‘Trial by Jury’ of 1876, which helpfully illustrates both that sense and the sense of ‘a piece of work’:

‘So we've finished with the job, And a good job too!’

The origin of job itself is uncertain, but it is possibly related to the word job meaning 'a cartload; the amount that a horse and cart can bring at one time.'

  • Thanks for the answer. Your second example makes sense to me since the piece of work definition is familiar to me. The 'set of circumstances' definition is not used in the U.S. as far as I know- where is it in common use? In that area would the statement, "It's a good job the sun is bright today" be a reasonable thing to say? No one has really done anything to cause that situation; so I would typically say instead, "It's a good thing the sun is..." or even just "It's good that the sun is..."
    – Jim
    Commented Mar 3, 2012 at 21:24
  • 3
    @Jim: 'It's a good job the sun is bright today' (or variations on it) would be quite normal in British English, but 'a good thing' would also be found. Commented Mar 3, 2012 at 21:53
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    The G&S line is actually a multi-way pun. An earlier line in the same verse says "it was managed by a job" which, in the 19th century, implied, if not actually meant, that there was corruption of some sort in the judge's appointment. This has the chorus "And a Good Job Too" implying that the corruption was a good thing and/or that the conduct of the corruption was well conducted. The final line and chorus say "So we've finished with the job. And a good job too" where "job" refers to the end of the case, the corruption, and the fact that getting to the end was a good thing.
    – BoldBen
    Commented Mar 29, 2020 at 5:05

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