When did "good on you" replace "good for you"?

Growing up, the phrase I always heard was “good for you!” and it made sense. Now I keep seeing and hearing “good on you” and it sounds stupid to me. When did this happen, and does this mean I have to advance to the red square on the Fuddy Duddy Game Board?

Blame Steve Irwin.

Yeah I think it’s either British or Australian and was imported because it sounds funny.

I hear it all the time from one Aussie I know. Maybe heard it from Brits, too, but it’s definitely used by Aussies. I’ve taken to using it myself now.

I believe it was July 23, 1972 around 1130–a cloudy day as I recall…Actually I’ve heard it for years–maybe it started out regional and escaped into the wild???

I’ve heard it for years too, but isolated, and figured it was just some wacky hillbilly thing. i’m now starting to fear that it’s become mainstreamed and thus my apprehension.

I’ve been hearing it for a while. I think “good on you” means more like “That was a good thing that you did” and “good for you” means something like “That was a good thing that happened to you”.

I’m pretty sure it’s Australian. Oh look, Wikipedia says that it’s originally Irish. Hmph.

About ten years ago, I had a good online friend from Australia who used the phrase a lot. He’s definitely the first person I heard it from. I noticed because it sounded so odd. Now I hear/see/use it a lot.

English is reconverging with the advent of the internet, I think. I’ve heard British people (on and off the Dope) complain about American English encroaching into Britain, but they may not notice as much that the reverse is also happening. I’ve started hearing Americans use “bloody” as a modifier and “loo” for toilet. When I was in college (also ten years ago!), a friend of mine had an English roommate who often used the phrase “I couldn’t be bothered”. We thought it was hilariously English. Now I hear it all the time. I’ve even started hearing Americans use the even more English (to my ears) “I couldn’t be arsed”.

I’m just waiting for Americans to start referring to lorries and car bonnets and lifts. Any day now.

When I lived in Oz.

I already do, especially “lifts.” And “flat” instead of “apartment.” Used extensively over here.

I’ve probably used it before.

“good for you” sounds either sarcastic or really condescending or both to me most of the time.
“good on you” sounds a bit more sincere, I guess.

I’m more likely to say “that’s great” than either, I think.

I never heard it before this thread. I’m pretty isolated I guess.


Hiya, Opal! How are the sales of your art going?

Yes, God forbid some “wacky hillbilly thing” becoming mainstream. :rolleyes:

What a relief to know it’s Australian, not hillbilly!

Well, I sold a plaster head for $100. It’s a start!

As an Enzedder, “good on you” (or, more properly, “good onya”, or simply “onya”) sounds right. “Good for you” sounds a bit dated to my ears. Sort of bobby-soxy.

First I heard it was from Crocodile Dundee.

I’ve never heard it, and have only read it here. I just thought it was a SDMB thing.

Although it’s the kind of phrase that strikes me would sound appropriate coming from a strong grandmotherly-type from the midwest, like Frances Sternhagen in Misery.

I can only speak for myself (American, born in upstate New York, raised mostly in Virginia), but to me, those phrases mean two different things.

I use “good for you” as a sarcastic statement, generally as a response to somebody bragging about something. It means either “I don’t care”, “you are being a pretentious twatwaffle”, or both. I can’t imagine a situation where I’d use it to express actual approval…something about the sound of the phrase just strikes me as inherently snarky.

“Good on you”, on the other hand, means that I approve of whatever you did and wish to commend you for it. It’s a bit of an akward phrasing, and is thus intended to carry more weight than if I’d just said “good” or “good job”.


  • I drank a whole fifth of Jack last night!

  • Good for you.

  • I gave up drinking last night; I’m getting on the wagon.

  • Good on you.

  • Bob just bought a $2,000 Rolex!

  • Good for Bob.

  • Bob just donated $2,000 to a cancer research fund!

  • Good on Bob.