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From the Cambridge Dictionary

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Does the sentence imply the idea is not that good now? In daily life do people who say something that way usually disagree the idea?

In other words, could someone name a real life situation where people did something in a way that was good in the past but is bad nowadays.

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You may infer from this that it now seems like a bad idea. It could also mean that circumstances have changed, so that an action which seemed a good thing when you did it has since turned out to have undesirable consequences. This phrase is almost an idiom to justify why you did something that was a bad idea. So in the context that you use this it is obvious that the idea was bad:

Why did you put salt in the coffee?
It seemed like a good idea at the time...

It means "I now know it was a bad idea, sorry about that"

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  • Thank you. Does that period actually exist in history when people put salt in coffee?
    – PutBere
    Jun 20, 2020 at 6:03
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    no. "at the time" means "at the time when I made the coffee". (ie about five minutes ago)
    – James K
    Jun 20, 2020 at 6:07
  • It could also mean that circumstances have changed, so that an action which seemed a good thing when you did it has since turned out to have undesirable consequences. Jun 20, 2020 at 8:15
  • Thanks, incorporated verbatim
    – James K
    Jun 20, 2020 at 9:38

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