Mr. Dursley sat frozen in his armchair. Shooting stars all over Britain? Owls flying by daylight? Mysterious people in cloaks all over the place? And a whisper, a whisper about the Potters...
Mrs. Dursley came into the living room carrying two cups of tea. It was no good. He'd have to say something to her. He cleared his throat nervously. "Er - Petunia, dear - you haven't heard from your sister lately, have you?"
(Harry Potter)

I can’t find the meaning but "it was no good" seems to mean "there's no choice but to do something." What is the real meaning and from where does it come from?

4 Answers 4


It’s no good by itself means, approximately, “This is a bad situation and something must be done.”

It derives, however, from a longer expression, It’s no good Xing …, where Xing is a gerund phrase:

  • It’s no good trying to cover the matter up.
  • It’s no good pretending we don’t notice.
  • It’s no good crying over spilt milk.

A variant of the expression is It’s no use Xing, and either version means “Xing will not make the situation better.”

Observe that “It was no good” is followed immediately by “He’d have to say something to her”. Mr. Dursley is telling himself that the situation has gotten out of hand and consequently he and his wife must end their long practice of not mentioning her sister’s family, because that practice is “no good”: of no use.


I think it's more of a British English saying. But it makes sense to me.

"It was no good" means something along the lines of "this won't do," or "this cannot do." In other words, there is a problem that cannot be ignored and action must be taken.


In many cases it can have a meaning similar to:

To not be acceptable

The boss had been abusing his powers for 10 years when his managers found out. It was no good, he had to go. [They fired him.]

In the example it is used colloquially to express that something had to be done about the situation becuase it would not remedy itself.

Its no good, I have to go home because I feel so sick I cannot concentrate


"No good" by itself is an expression equivalent to "bad" or similar words expressing unfavorableness. A phrase like "it is no good" can mean "this is unacceptable".

When someone is said to be "up to no good", they are being accused of doing or planning to do malicious acts. If someone says that "no good can come of this", they are claiming that the course of action being taken will lead to unfavorable results. It can be interchanged with "bad" in some cases. For instance, a referee at a sporting event might claim that a shot made was "bad" or "no good", both meaning that the referee believes that shot was either unskillfully made or not eligible for points.

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