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What to say instead of Good Luck
November 28, 2007 2:42 PM   Subscribe

What are some less superstitious-sounding alternatives to the phrase "Good Luck"?

I frequently find myself saying good luck to people, often after I've been only able to partially answer something asked of me, and lately I've begun to question the usefulness of the phrase. What I usually really mean to say is something more along the lines of "I'm sorry that I wasn't able to solve your problem completely, and I sincerely hope that you're able to" but that is a lot more syllables. I'd like to avoid giving anybody the impression that I'm praying for them or crossing my fingers or knocking on wood etc. I'm sure that lots of people who do not consider themselves to be superstitious say "good luck" regularly and think nothing of it, but because so many people in the world are extremely superstitious I'd like to lessen my use of the phrase. What are some good alternatives?
posted by finite to Human Relations (60 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
 
Best wishes (a bit formal, though.)

Cheers (works very well, but some people will think you're trying to be British.)
posted by desuetude at 2:44 PM on November 28, 2007


fare thee well
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 2:45 PM on November 28, 2007


Godspeed. Do well. Break a leg.
posted by Autarky at 2:48 PM on November 28, 2007


Simple: "Sorry I couldn't help more, take care/cheers."
posted by Nelsormensch at 2:50 PM on November 28, 2007


More syllables than the above but less than your italicized suggestion: "Let me know how it goes."

Related but doesn't solve your problem: People in theater use the phrase "Break a leg." Of course, the reason they use that is because of the superstitious belief that "Good luck" will bring bad luck, so you've still got that entangled.
posted by dondiego87 at 2:50 PM on November 28, 2007


"Godspeed" might not be the best choice if the questioner is trying to avoid the taint of superstition.

A friend of mine used to tell people "I hope you win!"
posted by jtron at 2:53 PM on November 28, 2007 [3 favorites]


I second "Let me know how it goes." I think Cheers is good, but in America people might get it confused with a toast. That would be out of place, but could be how it is associated.
posted by sweetkid at 2:55 PM on November 28, 2007


I don't say it myself, but I knew a guy who always said "Keep fighting the good fight" in those situations.
posted by burnmp3s at 2:58 PM on November 28, 2007


'I hope it works out', or 'I bet it'll work out' (whether you believe it will or not)...
posted by greenskpr at 2:59 PM on November 28, 2007


Break a leg

"Break a leg" is superstitious. The idea is that you will "jinx" someone by wishing them good luck, so you wish them the complete opposite of good luck.

Kinda like mentioning to a pitcher that he has a no-hitter going. Don't mention it -- you might scare the good luck away or something. Or you give the pitcher the idea that he should do well, given the current state of things, so he tries too hard to do well, which screws everything up.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:02 PM on November 28, 2007


I think you're overthinking this plate of beans, but I'll take a stab at it anyhow:

Be a Viking!
posted by adamrice at 3:03 PM on November 28, 2007 [4 favorites]


"I hope it works out".
posted by unknowncommand at 3:04 PM on November 28, 2007


When I say "good luck," I usually mean "I'm rooting for you." Maybe something to that effect?
posted by Metroid Baby at 3:04 PM on November 28, 2007


I like fare thee well and cheers, but I'm leery of saying best wishes because I think that is even more likely to be misinterpreted as a belief in the power-of-prayer than good luck is.

On preview: Godspeed and break a leg are definitely out :)
Take care is good, and I do say that sometimes, but it doesn't convey the sentiment of I hope you win. I think let me know how it goes is ideal for situations where I actually do want to know how it went, but sometimes I might actually not ever talk to the person again and I really don't need to know how it went, even if I still do hope they win, so to speak.

I think I hope it works out is the best answer yet, thanks greenskpr!
posted by finite at 3:05 PM on November 28, 2007


This was asked about a few months ago here.
posted by jedicus at 3:09 PM on November 28, 2007


I'm kind of partial to, "May the force be with you."
posted by AlliKat75 at 3:14 PM on November 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


Supposedly, Capt. Smith of the Titanic told his men to "be British." Presumably meaning honourable. I guess this isn't any better than superstition, if you wish to avoid confusing people.

In a "goodbye" context, you could say "fare well".
Or "be well".
Or "strength".
Or "take care".
posted by kidbritish at 3:14 PM on November 28, 2007


I generally say "Go forth and conquer!", but I have odd friends and we tend to find this more a joke than a wish.
posted by ninazer0 at 3:15 PM on November 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


Sorry for the double, I'm reading that thread now. It didn't show up in the first few pages of this google search, which amazingly does already have this thread (less than 30 minutes after I posted it).
posted by finite at 3:16 PM on November 28, 2007


All the best.
posted by WCityMike at 3:25 PM on November 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


"Hope this helps!"
posted by cashman at 3:27 PM on November 28, 2007


It's in the other thread, but 'Have fun storming the castle' works for me, but I only use it on folks I think will get it.
posted by pupdog at 3:28 PM on November 28, 2007


past post
posted by Salvatorparadise at 3:30 PM on November 28, 2007


In German, I'm led to believe that the phrase Schwein Haben (Have pigs!) is used as a way of saying 'good luck.' I've always been partial myself.
posted by saladin at 3:33 PM on November 28, 2007 [3 favorites]


Have a better one!
posted by infinitewindow at 3:35 PM on November 28, 2007


"Good skill"

(also previously).
posted by Jabberwocky at 3:42 PM on November 28, 2007


Oops, that shouldn't be plural; it means "have pig."
posted by saladin at 3:45 PM on November 28, 2007


Well, there are a lot of good answers in that other thread, and some good ones here too, but I'm still lacking something with brevity of good luck and the meaning of I hope you win and a comfortable appropriateness for ending a conversation where the other party is left facing an unresolved problem. Be a viking, Qapla', Live long and prosper, and May the force be with you are all good if the person you're speaking to is likely to grok those references, but (and this may be shocking to some) I sometimes interact with people who aren't.

Keep the suggestions coming, please!
posted by finite at 3:47 PM on November 28, 2007


have a nice day!
posted by bruce at 3:51 PM on November 28, 2007


My boyfriend would always tell me "you'll be right".
posted by divabat at 3:57 PM on November 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


"Gesundeit"

At least it'll make them laugh.
posted by tehloki at 3:58 PM on November 28, 2007


I've used many of the above, plus:
Keep on keepin' on;
Have fun;
If you get it sorted out, let me know;
Don't blame me;
You've got my number if you need more help;
Don't fret, it'll get fixed somehow;
Don't take any wooden nickels;
See you later alligator;
I'll call you if I come up with anything else.
But mostly, "cheers".
posted by enfa at 4:05 PM on November 28, 2007


"Don't get any on you."
posted by nedpwolf at 4:05 PM on November 28, 2007 [5 favorites]


"Up and at 'em" or 'Go get 'em." You can add "tiger" if you really want to go to town.
posted by Abiezer at 4:10 PM on November 28, 2007


"less superstitious-sounding"?

Fundamentally, isn't it superstitious to believe that any kind of good wish, however worded, makes any difference?
posted by sim.possible at 4:17 PM on November 28, 2007


Take courage!
posted by ludwig_van at 4:18 PM on November 28, 2007


"Godspeed" might not be the best choice if the questioner is trying to avoid the taint of superstition.

In my experience, people today use "Godspeed" as a sort of ironic antique -- a way to simultaneously make a joke and (generally not unseriously) wish someone well. Not appropriate across the whole range of contexts you're seeking a word for, of course.
posted by electric water kettle at 4:34 PM on November 28, 2007


Rock on.
posted by unknowncommand at 4:38 PM on November 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


"I'm with ya!"
posted by Stewriffic at 4:40 PM on November 28, 2007


Fundamentally, isn't it superstitious to believe that any kind of good wish, however worded, makes any difference?

No. I think some words of encouragement can go a long way, especially when somebody is bordering on deciding they're unable to solve their problem. I don't see anything superstitious about that. I suppose that what I really mean in many circumstances when I say good luck, is actually I hope you don't give up because, despite that I have not solved it, I think this is a solvable problem. Except, sometimes I say it about problems that aren't really very likely to be adequately solved; but still, I hope they don't give up.

I think "don't stop trying" could work well in some contexts.
posted by finite at 4:43 PM on November 28, 2007


said with a friendly smile and a whisper of irony:
"i think you're in pretty good shape here!"
"i'm voting for you!"
"you're not sweatin' it."
"you're golden."
"i think you're doing great."
"i'm confident you can beat this thing."
"this one's all yours."

or

"will that hold you for now?"
"i'll let you know if anything else comes down the pipe!"
posted by twistofrhyme at 5:18 PM on November 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


Fair point, finite. What about a simple "You can do it" or "I'm sure you'll find a way"
posted by sim.possible at 5:21 PM on November 28, 2007


sim.possible, those are good, but you can do it is a little cheesy I think.

Your question earlier made me think more about why I want to express hope in these situations (to be encouraging), so thanks for posting that. I suppose that words of encouragement are what I'm really looking for.
posted by finite at 5:29 PM on November 28, 2007


lang may yer lum reek.


(yeah, i know.)
posted by sgt.serenity at 5:33 PM on November 28, 2007


Good Hunting!
/junglebook
posted by Catch at 5:34 PM on November 28, 2007


Maybe not quite what you're after, but I tend to say "Enjoy!" as a sort of shorthand for something like "Good luck, she'll be right, don't give up, and come out the other side smiling".

At least, they're the thoughts that are in my mind as I say it. Though I did have to explain it once - to a friend who'd, last time we met, told me he had cancer.
posted by Pinback at 5:48 PM on November 28, 2007


With expressing encouragement, I guess it depends on how well you know them and the situation.

So if you're 411 and you can't find a restaurant for them, the most you can probably say is "Sorry about that, hope you find it". If you told them "Believe in yourself, I know you'll find it!" you'd probably sound very odd and patronizing.

However if you're a fellow math professor, it would probably be more appropriate to tell them "Well, if anyone can figure it out, you can".

What kind of situation/context do you most need this line for?
posted by sim.possible at 6:00 PM on November 28, 2007


What are some less superstitious-sounding alternatives to the phrase "Good Luck"?

"good luck" isn't inherently superstitious. it would be superstitious if the sayer thought that by saying it, he or she was actually causing beneficial fates to transpire over the person it was said to. But it can be said - I would think usually is said - just to wish or hope the other person good luck with their endeavor. So when you say it you are just a) acknowledging that not everything is within the person's control, but some of it is chance or random coincidence (luck), and b) letting them know that you hope that those random factors happen to go positively (good) for them (since you already trust that their effort, intelligence, ability, etc will be going positively).

If you're really uncomfortable talking about luck, I'd go with "hope it works out" but honestly I think you're worrying unnecessarily.
posted by mdn at 6:11 PM on November 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


"You'll get it."
posted by MaxK at 6:13 PM on November 28, 2007


It's interesting that finite says "because so many people in the world are extremely superstitious I'd like to lessen my use of the phrase".

I'd imagine that the best way to encourage someone extremely superstitious would be to say "Spin around three times in your chair and the answer will come to you - I know so because a revered Tibetan monk told me so!"
posted by sim.possible at 6:24 PM on November 28, 2007


Not exactly (remotely?) what you are looking for but I've always found parting with "Be safe" to be of comfort on the receiving end.
posted by crustix at 6:28 PM on November 28, 2007


You could take the Han Solo approach, and follow your "Good Luck" with a shrug, and "You're gonna need it."
posted by SlyBevel at 6:56 PM on November 28, 2007


People in theater use the phrase "Break a leg."

In English they do. Italian-speaking performers say "En boca al lupo" ("In the mouth of the wolf" -- the required response is "Crepi il lupo!" which means "Death to the wolf!"). French-speaking performers say, more simply, "Merde!", which might very well be appropriate for your usage.
posted by ubiquity at 7:07 PM on November 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


"Hope you get it."

"Ganbatte."

"Imitate the action of the tiger: Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood." Or, simply, "Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more."

"Screw your courage to the sticking-place, and we'll not fail."

"Fight on, fight on, dear old Muncie,
Fight on; hoist the gold and blue.
You'll be tattered, torn, and hurtin'
Once the Munce is done with you."
posted by eritain at 10:03 PM on November 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


Knock 'em dead.
posted by asuprenant at 11:28 PM on November 28, 2007


Smooth sailing.
posted by dirtdirt at 5:20 AM on November 29, 2007


Heh. HTH HAND.
posted by chengjih at 6:29 AM on November 29, 2007


And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 6:43 AM on November 29, 2007


Be ever vigilant.
posted by poq at 8:04 AM on November 29, 2007


Or just "Screw your courage." Among friends, you know.
posted by eritain at 1:15 PM on December 3, 2007


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