If some quality can be quantified where there's some threshold value that has a significance, then, no matter how close you are under that threshold, the idiom 'A miss is as good as a mile' applies. Implying, of course, that the closeness is irrelevant: below the threshold is below the threshold.

For example, say you had an exam where the pass mark was 60% and you scored 59%: you still fail, even though you were only one percentage point from the threshold.

My question is: Is there a 'positive' version of this idiom, for the situation where you're slightly over the threshold? To extend our example: say I scored 60% and my friend scored 96%; when the quality is banded by its thresholds, we both passed, even though I only just made it.

  • After reading my post, I feel 'just made it' probably fits the bill, but I was thinking of a comparative idiom, if one exists. Jul 13 '12 at 12:30
  • 1
    I'd probably say A pass is a pass, but, with due respect to Gertrude Stein, that's not really an idiom. Jul 13 '12 at 12:38
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    How about 'a gentleman's C'?
    – Mitch
    Jul 13 '12 at 13:00
  • @Mitch I like that :) Jul 13 '12 at 13:13

"Enough is as good as a feast"

  • I was torn which answer to accept, but while this is quite an obscure idiom, it fits the bill and maybe it would be good to resurrect it :) Jul 15 '12 at 11:09
  • @Xophmeister: I think you're mistaken. Most competent native speakers will be perfectly familiar with this saying. Jul 16 '12 at 1:47
  • I'm a competent native BE speaker and I've never heard/read this phrase, to my recollection. The linked source says "British old-fashioned", which suggests anyone under a certain age will be in the same position as me. Jul 16 '12 at 7:39

The usual trope is based on "Close enough for [domain]."

Close enough for government work.
Close enough for rock 'n' roll.

And so on. The implication is that the domain involved is not particularly fussy about quality.

  • 1
    But close only counts in Horseshoes and hand grenades. :P Jul 13 '12 at 13:43
  • Good enough for the girls I run with
    – horatio
    Jul 13 '12 at 15:51
  • @cornbreadninja - And nuclear weapons! Jul 14 '12 at 2:28

"Made it by the skin of his teeth" is a phrase that expresses that concept. Or "just made it", "narrowly made it", or "barely made it".

There are adjectives that more briefly express the idea, like "adequate", "passing", and "close". Those aren't necessarily that specific, though.


Some idioms to say the positive (and happy) outcome:

I barely passed.

I felt the heat on that one. (Or: I was close enough to feel the heat.)

I just scraped by.

I limped across the finish line.

I passed by the skin of my teeth. (rephrase of Job 19:20)

Next time you miss the passing mark by a bit, you might say:

I was close enough to taste it.

I was close enough to smell it.

For the latter, there is an exchange with Spock and Chekov that I can't resist, from Star Trek (television series) The Trouble with Tribbles:

SPOCK: Deep Space Station K7 now within sensor range, Captain.

KIRK: Good. Mister Chekov, this flight is supposed to provide both experience and knowledge. How close will we come to the Klingon outpost if we continue on our present course?

CHEKOV: One parsec, sir. Close enough to smell them.

SPOCK: That is illogical, Ensign. Odours cannot travel through the vacuum of space.

CHEKOV: I was making a little joke, sir.

SPOCK: Extremely little, Ensign

(Courtesy of The Star Trek Transcripts.)


For example, say you had an exam where the pass mark was 60% and you scored 59%: you still fail, even though you were only one percentage point from the threshold.

This reminds me of something that less studious types at college said, or sung like Cookie Monster, "D is for Diploma. That's good enough for me."

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