I watched TV and a man said “Just great!” when his car stopped running and wasn’t working.

I thought the word “great” must be positive thing, but it seemed it was negative thing in this case.

So could you explain me what “Just great!” mean?

Thank you!


2 Answers 2


Agree with Adam. This is certainly spoken in a sarcastic manner. Now, back to the OP's concern.

There is no specific meaning for 'Just great!' other than you are describing something that has surprised you. Now it depends which context or scene you are talking in.

For instance, in a meeting to plan celebration of the New Year if someone comes up with really good idea, you may say, "Just great!"

In the above mentioned scene, the person is already frustrated (maybe, he's already getting late and things are not happening the way he wants) and another nail in the coffin, the car stops! There he sighs in frustration, "Just great (damn)!"

All in all, just great may indicate something more in the same context. Now this more could be good, bad, frustrating, entertaining, delighting or whatever!


This is used quite often in conversational English, when speakers use words that seem to contradict what they are saying.

When a car breaks down, for example, a driver might say any of these:

Just great.
Oh, wonderful.
Fan - tastic.

All of these, in this context, really mean:

Oh, crap.

In a similar vein, these are rather common as well:

  • Yeah, right. (When we don't believe what someone is saying)
  • That's bad! (This one is rather dated, but there are contexts when this means something is excellent)
  • No way! (When we are astonished by what we just heard)

This is why context is so important in interpreting the meaning of words. Most of the time, when people use words or expressions this way, it's evident – by the circumstances or the tone used by the speaker – that the speaker means the opposite of the literal interpretation of the words they are saying.

  • @ J.R.I just know that we can say Oh, wonderful and Fan - tastic too for this case.Your explanations and examples are very useful. Thanks a lot. I appreciate your help.
    – nkm
    Nov 29, 2013 at 15:07
  • Interestingly, some of these can be used sarcastically or literally ("oh my goodness that's bad!" - literal / "Well that's bad!" - sarcastic), Just great and similar phrases like well that's just peachy are only used sarcastically to mean this really sucks. The ones where it can be used either way are sometimes intensified by insertion of an expletive to make them unambiguous, such as fan-bloody-tastic, or no fxxxxg way.
    – Matt
    Nov 29, 2013 at 15:20
  • 1
    When you insert an expletive like this, you usually insert it before the syllable that bears primary stress. Fantastic is /fænˈtæstɪk/, so you insert before tastic; absolutely is /ˌæbsəˈluːtlɪ/ (when showing agreement), so you insert before lutely; and so on.
    – user230
    Dec 2, 2013 at 7:46
  • 1
    @snailboat - that's a sen-freakin’-sational point.
    – J.R.
    Dec 2, 2013 at 9:20

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