Heard in Missouri: "but good!"

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Wed Dec 19 18:22:40 UTC 2007

At 10:10 AM -0800 12/19/07, Arnold M. Zwicky wrote:
>let me try this again; it slipped out of my grasp the first time...
>On Dec 19, 2007, at 9:18 AM, David Donnell wrote:
>>Question about an expression I just heard: "but good!"
>>... The expression never registered with me before, although it
>>familiar rolling off her tongue; it apparently means something like
>>"and how!"
>note that it really won't do to define one opaque idioms by another.
>>Is anyone familiar with this critter?
>it's in the AHD Dictionary of Idioms (1997):
>  Emphatically, thoroughly, as in Ruth decided to clean up the whole
>yard but good. The word but in this colloquialism functions as an
>intensive. Also see _and how_. x
>so far as i know, it's general american.  colloquial, but widespread.
I'm used to hearing it especially in contexts of warning or threats,
or the fulfillment of an action with negative consequences for the

"I'm gonna fix your wagon--but good!"
(only idiomatic reading, no actual wagon-repair being offered here)

"He got me (back), but good!"
(could refer to physical violence, or being made the butt of a
practical joke, a revenge set-up, etc.)

The clean-the-yard scenario would strike me as odd;

"Ruth decided to mess up the whole yard, but good!"

would be more natural.


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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