Here’s a bit of dialogue which I literally translated from Russian:

― You should get a girlfriend!

― Girlfriend? Didn’t hear. . . .

The idea of the answer is to self-ironically point out not only that the guy doesn’t have a girlfriend, but also that he hasn’t even heard of their existence.

In Russian, it is a kind of idiom. What is the right way to express a similar idea in English?

  • 1
    "Irony: (MW3UDE) 1 a : feigned ignorance designed to confound or provoke an antagonist : DISSIMULATION". // Some ironic responses if said with a straight face: "'Girlfriend'? Never heard the word. (What's it mean?)" or "'Girlfriend'? Can girls really be friends?" or "'Girlfriend'? What's a girl?" or "'Girlfriend'? I can always mute & toggle my PC to 'hibernate' or 'sleep' mode. What about a girlfriend?" – user21497 Nov 16 '12 at 7:51
  • 5
    I'm pretty sure that this pretty new and already deadbeat meme is actually direct translation of corresponding English "never heard of it". – Oleg V. Volkov Nov 16 '12 at 10:40

Another idiomatic option (at least in British English) would be:

You should get yourself a girlfriend.

Sorry, never heard of it.

The use of the impersonal pronoun "it" is part of the humour; it indicates that the speaker not only has no girlfriend, but doesn't even understand the concept that a "girlfriend" might be a type of human being.


A corresponding conversation in English might go something like this:

You should get yourself a girlfriend!

A girlfriend? What’s that?!

It’s more sarcasm than irony, and the reply is often “deadpanned”.


If you want to turn the sarcasm back on the person giving obvious advice, you could say something like

A girlfriend? I didn't get the memo.


A girlfriend? I must have missed a meeting!


A girlfriend? Gee, why didn't I think of that?

Any of these implies that the advice is so obvious that the person giving it is either stupid or callous (or both) for bringing up a topic that is already causing you significant discomfort.

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.