It is from the Oxford Dictionary, under it's entry for shoot:

Shoot, it was a great day to be alive.

What does this sentence mean? What is the speaker saying in this sentence?

I am confused by "it was a great day to be alive"; is the speaker feeling happy, lucky or grateful?

What does alive mean in this sentence?


"It is/was a great day to be alive" simply means that the speaker believes that this particular day was a day that he enjoyed. That is, he is glad that he was alive on this particular day. It's a fairly common phrase used to express joy about some event or experience. It is used to describe all sorts of events, from things very personal to things very general.

Like, "I looked out over the beautiful fields, filled with flowers, and the majestic mountain towering in the distance. It was a great day to be alive."

"I just head on the news that the war is over. People are pouring out into the streets to celebrate. This is a great day to be alive."

"Today we have all sorts of conveniences to make our lives more pleasant, from the automobile to television to microwave ovens. This is a great day to be alive."

It does not normally mean that the speaker has narrowly escaped death or anything like that.

"Shoot" is simply an interjection, a word used to intensify an expression. It is a very mild word. It can be positive or negative. "Shoot, I lost my pencil." Or, "Shoot, my favorite TV show is on." If used in more extreme situations it is seen as quaint or a deliberate under-playing. You wouldn't normally expect someone to say, "Shoot, the doctor just told me I have only three weeks to live." If someone did, you'd either take that to mean that he was deliberately downplaying the seriousness of the issue, or that he is someone who is particularly mild-mannered or who does not use strong language.

  • The day I wrote this post, that evening I put on TV and watch an old TV show, I Spy, that began with a character saying how he spent the day touring historic and picturesque sites in Hong Kong, and concluded, "It was a great day to be alive." – Jay Nov 19 '13 at 15:44
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    I'd add that "Shoot" (like "Shucks") can be used as a substitute for the more vulgar interjection "Shit". Most people wouldn't really care about that and certainly in this situation it has no negative connotations. – Wayne Feb 14 '14 at 16:43
  • @wayne I'm not sure what you mean by "no negative connotations". Many people object to vulgar language and would be offended by the stronger word. Perhaps you and your friends have no objection to such language, but there certainly are many people who would be offended. – Jay Feb 14 '14 at 17:21

You've neglected to give the minimal context, which is:


North American informal

used as a euphemism for ‘shit’:

shoot, it was a great day to be alive

This just an example of the Oxford Dictionaries being out of touch. "Shoot" is not used as a euphemism for "shit" in a positive exclamation, to intensify excitement or awe.

Someone saying "shoot, was it a great day to be alive" would draw smirks due to the quaint awkwardness of the expression.

This substitution is only done for "shit" that is used as a curse, expressing irritation. A much better example is:

Shoot, I forgot my wallet at work!

Common substitutes for "shit" in a sentence like "shit, it was a great day to be alive" would be along the lines of:

Man, was it a great day to be alive!

Damn, was it a great day to be alive! [Note that the "darn" euphemism for "damn" is poorly suited, similarly to "shoot".]

Boy, was it a great day to be alive!

Most words used as curses expressing irritation are not used to intensify awe or excitement. For example "crap" (even though it's a synonym of shit), "darn", "shoot", "rats". These words only express annoyance.

What exactly "it is a great day to be alive" means could depend on the context. By itself, it is an expression of euphoria: it might be spoken by someone feeling elated and optimistic, who has a sense of living to the fullest.

  • I just don't quite understand "It's a great day to be alive." – dennylv Nov 18 '13 at 5:05
  • Is the speaker feeling happy, lucky or grateful? The speaker says "was", and I just can't imagine what the scenario is. Had he got out of some danger? – dennylv Nov 18 '13 at 5:37
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    @dennylv We do not know such details; it is just an example in a dictionary. Maybe the speaker beat cancer, won a lottery, or is high on stimulant drugs. – Kaz Nov 18 '13 at 6:27
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    @dennylv The word "still" is not used in the sentence. To be alive is simply not to be dead. "It's great to be alive" is a common expression, and it's not new. It's the title of a 1933 movie, evidently. – Kaz Nov 18 '13 at 7:29
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    "It was a great day to be alive" could be said by someone who is reminiscing about a day on which he or she felt like saying "it is great to be alive". Perhaps today is not such a day, but that day was. – Kaz Nov 18 '13 at 8:07

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