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NerdyKeith's avatar

Where did the very British expression "Good show" come from?

Asked by NerdyKeith (5479points) March 17th, 2016

I’ve heard it been used a few times by very well spoken English people when someone says or does something very well, they turn to them and say “Oh good show sir”

Where did this phrase originate from in regards to its significance and period?

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7 Answers

janbb's avatar

Just did a bit of fast Googling but got no derivations. My guess is that it comes from horse racing, “Win, place or show.”

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

Cambridge and Oxford dictionaries don’t even list it as a phrase. says only that it is British originating in 1940. Uh, I seriously think I heard that phrase in British movies going back at least to the ‘30s. I’ll have to check my Basil Rathbones, but that would be tedious and take forever. It has a Victorian feel to it for me. I can Contrl F some PDFs of Churchill’s early writings going back to 1897. I’ll get back to you…

The Google Ngram viewer shows blip of usage between 1810 and 1820, then it disappears until 1860, enjoys low use off and on until late 1939 and spikes into general use. So… DICTIONARY.COM IS WRONG!!! MUWAAAHAHAHAHA!

But it still doesn’t explain how it came to be.

ucme's avatar

Ahem, make that jolly good show”…often ending with “old bean”
It came from nowhere, just how posh folk roll, spewing platitudes at the drop of a hat don’t you know.

ibstubro's avatar

Let’s take this full circle, shall we?

(Bing result.)

NerdyKeith's avatar

@ibstubro Ah you found my Yahoo Answers version of the question. It is difficult to tell it was one of my questions due to the fantastic job Yahoo has done with the avatars.

Unfortunately the only answer I received then was from a user citing from Which @Espiritus_Corvus has pointed out, is not that accurate.

ibstubro's avatar

I searched on Bing and there were no other answers trying to address the Q, @NerdyKeith.

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