Here it goes in context: "The projections for the long run deficits and debt have already been revised downward. Go us!"


It is a play on a cheer. At a horse race, someone who has bet on a nag called "Speed Demon" might shout, "Go, demon." Or at a football game, a fan of the Whyoming Worms might try to encourage the team with yells or chants of "Go, Worms, go." (I don't know for sure whether the name of the football team at the University of Whyoming is actually called the Worms.)

In other words, "Go, X" is a locution frequently used as encouragement to X by a supporter of X. The usage that you are asking about is (or was the first few million times it was used) a mildly humorous play on that stock phrase from sporting events. "We," presumably the citizenry, are being treated as a sports team and fiscal policy as a game. Moreover, there is deliberate confusion about who is to be encouraged and who is giving encouragement. The speaker is pretending to encourage others to continue their efforts while simultaneously taking credit for those efforts.

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    Unless you were making a joke, it's "Wyoming", not "Whyoming". Also, I disagree with "The speaker is pretending to encourage others to continue their efforts while simultaneously taking credit for those efforts.", depending on the context. If both the listener and the speaker are on a team at work trying to reduce deficits, then the speaker is more likely just celebrating their joint success. – Mark S. Jan 6 '18 at 16:15
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    Making a joke? You mean that there is no football team called the "Worms"? How could you possibly think that name was facetious? – Jeff Morrow Jan 6 '18 at 17:01
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    If there is indeed such a team, one might perhaps rather expect “Slither, Worms, slither!”. But then perhaps biology is a bit different at the University of Whyoming, whichever parallel universe it may be in. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jan 7 '18 at 12:11
  • Only at peak excitement do the fans shout "Slither." – Jeff Morrow Jan 7 '18 at 15:12
  • FYI, University of Santa Cruz mascot is a banana slug – Peter M. - stands for Monica Feb 7 '18 at 17:53

The exhortation "Go [entity]" is a simple encouragement to that entity to do well and succeed. Grammatically it is in the form of an imperative statement.

Probably the most common example is "Go team!" where team can be the name of a team.

Go Bears!
Go Cougars!
Go Patriots!

etc. The named team is being encouraged or exhorted to win a game, a championship, a trophy, whatever.

When used as above in "Go us!" the expression is an encouragement to a country or society (you don't name the contextual state or country), and is probably somewhat sarcastic, in that instead of encouraging a win it is celebrating (?) less of a loss.

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    You mean more of a loss, I think. – Please stop being evil Jan 6 '18 at 20:43
  • It's not really "celebrating". As you said, it's sarcastic, a humorous way to take a jab at the society's failure. – Barmar Jan 6 '18 at 22:55
  • @Barmar: I was using "celebrating" sarcastically myself. – Robusto Jan 6 '18 at 22:57
  • Maybe scare quotes would have been better. But perhaps it would be better to avoid wordplay in ELL, the primary audience might not get the joke. – Barmar Jan 6 '18 at 23:06
  • But how they gonna learn? ^_^ – Robusto Jan 6 '18 at 23:29

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