Not Bad

What does "not bad" mean?


When someone describes something as "not bad," they are actually saying it's pretty good or even great. For example, after killing your saxophone solo at the school concert, your dad may describe your performance as "not bad."

People who use "not bad" are likely known for being understated, whether it's their personality or a reflection of the culture in which they grew up. For example, Minnesotans often describe good things as not bad partially because of the strong influence Scandinavians (known for being reserved or stoic) have had on their culture. For many in this position, it may be challenging to give an outright compliment, thus, the "not bad" sentiment.

Nuanced use

While people may use it online or in messages when describing something's quality, you will often hear people use it in real life (IRL). In these cases, its meaning is more nuanced.

For example, if the person emphatically says, "Not bad!" they thought it was great. But if they say, "Not ... bad," with some hesitation at the end, they may think it was good or maybe just serviceable.


What do you think of my painting?
Not bad
Classic not bad face and meme
Classic not bad face and meme

Related Slang


Updated April 18, 2023

Not bad definition by

This page explains what the slang term "Not bad" means. The definition, example, and related terms listed above have been written and compiled by the team.

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