I checked similar questions regarding 'fair enough' phrase, it appears that the most frequently used meaning is an agreement with possible reluctance, this corresponds to my understanding of it.

In my native language it's commonly translated according to the literal sense, (you were) fair enough, or (what you said is) fair enough, where the meaning of 'fair' varies between 'honest' and 'just'. Most times it seems out of place to me in the context. One of possible meanings is described in this answer and seems to be close to 'fair point'.

Is it common or acceptable to use 'fair enough' like that?

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    I've never heard it used in anything other than a figurative way. (Acceptance of a particular argument used by somebody you've been debating. As in, I concede your point.) I suppose something like this would make sense: "Is she a fair lass?" "Fair enough, I suppose." Sep 3, 2018 at 1:25
  • @JasonBassford Thanks. That's a good example, by the way.
    – ordo
    Sep 3, 2018 at 1:37
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    I'd say it's quite commonly used in the literal sense. When negotiating for, say, a handyman to do some minor repair in your home, he bids $100, you say you can't see paying more than $50, he suggests $75, you reply "Fair enough", meaning it's maybe not the fairest deal you might make, but it's close enough. (But note that "fair" is being used in the sense of "equitable".)
    – Hot Licks
    Sep 3, 2018 at 1:38
  • FWIW, it seems that it's false friend when used in literal sense, which is mistaken for true enough.
    – ordo
    May 20, 2019 at 15:40

1 Answer 1


Ordo, I agree with your interpretation.

Can 'fair enough' be used in the literal sense?

Yes, and I've only heard it used literally. The comment to the question by @JasonBassford is still a literal usage. It would be possible to say "fair enough" when it clearly was not at all fair, but that is still a literal usage (it's literally a joke).

The expression "fair enough" means that it is "sufficiently fair", adequate, OK. Not "the best".

Example: Two people discuss something and after each has made one or more points to advance their position one of the two will say: "fair enough" - that means that the extent of the argument and counter argument have reached a point where one or both feel that further debate is not worthwhile - it doesn't absolutely mean that there is a complete agreement.

Example where there is no absolute agreement, only partial agreement:

Joe: I need my roof fixed for $1000.

Tom: Your roof is dangerous and risks falling in, there's no way it will cost any less than several thousand dollars. You'll need to come up with a lot more money.

Joe: The most I can afford is $1100 dollars.

Tom: Fair enough.

Joe: When can you start repairs?

Tom: When you can afford several thousand dollars.

Tom agrees with Joe that he can only afford a little over a thousand dollars, it's probably not a point that Tom can argue; he likely doesn't know Joe's finances. That he agrees with Joe that he can afford no more doesn't mean that he will do it for less. It is a literal usage.

Much as the comment to the question might mean that the person was "fair enough" for one date, that doesn't imply that she is the fairest in all the land.

  • Thanks for the example, it's quite descriptive. I suppose that 'fair enough' is less harsh but also less precise than 'at least you were honest' here, isn't it?
    – ordo
    Sep 3, 2018 at 15:38
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    Replacing "fair enough" with "at least you were honest" doesn't work when agreeing that sufficient debate was made and that it's "sufficiently fair". In the case of Joe and Tom neither knows if the other is lying.
    – Rob
    Sep 3, 2018 at 15:49

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