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I would like to know how the phrase "as good as one's word".

I figured out the meaning of that phrase, but I can't understand how or why it can be made. The word "word" means a promise in this case, but what is the meaning of "as good as"?

Please tell me if you know the origin or the structure of "as good as one's word".

If possible, I would appreciate if you could give me the citation or reference about that phrase.

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  • Google Books has this from the 1580s - I deeme he will be as good as his word (The Complete Works of Thomas Nashe). And the full OED has Shall we doubt, whether the Lorde our God wyl be as good as his word? dated 1560. But English has changed so much since then it's not really meaningful to try and analyse the syntax in today's terms anyway. Whatever - it's not so tricky to "decode" as my grandmother's favoured turn of phrase in this area: Fine words butter no parsnips! Sep 22, 2021 at 11:21
  • There's an earlier question in ELL about the phrase "you're only as good as your word." Sep 22, 2021 at 12:47
  • "your word" means "your ability to keep a promise"
    – gotube
    Sep 23, 2021 at 1:23

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A person's "word" can mean more than just what they say. It can carry the meaning of their reputation for being truthful. A similar expression "my word is my bond" shows that what a person says can be seen as a binding agreement, and something of value, like a bond.

Saying something is "as good as" something else draws a comparison between the two, based on the quality of 'goodness'. In the case of promises or oaths, being 'good' to a promise would mean delivering upon it. So, saying "I am as good as my word" asks a person to consider their trustworthiness based upon the person's word, or binding agreement. If a person was not known to keep to their word, then their 'word' as a bond holds no value.

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