go figure

Discussion in 'English Only' started by NickJunior, Aug 15, 2007.

  1. NickJunior Senior Member

    Amérique du Nord
    Cambodgien
    Below was what a co-worker told me about what her boss had said to her. What does the term go figure mean?

    Thanks
     
  2. bibliolept

    bibliolept Senior Member

    Northern California
    AE, Español
    It's an expression of surprise or amusement.
     
  3. cycloneviv

    cycloneviv Senior Member

    Perth, Western Australia
    English - Australia
  4. Dimcl Senior Member

    British Columbia, Canada
    Canadian English
    It means "Wouldn't you just know it" or "Isn't that great..." (said very sarcastically).

    "Go figure" is a colloquialism that I actually don't hear much anymore. It's simply said to express dissatisfaction and/or exasperation. It's probably short for "Go figure it out" or "Go figure that out". In the case of your sample sentence, the boss has given her two days off when, in fact, it's the weekend anyway so he's not giving her anything. Go figure! :)
     
  5. bibliolept

    bibliolept Senior Member

    Northern California
    AE, Español
    I disagree. The phrase can be said to express exasperation or frustration, but that is not how it is most often used, based on my own experience. It's more of a dismissal, with a tone that might be humorous or bemused; you might say it while shrugging.
     
  6. Harry Batt

    Harry Batt Senior Member

    Minneapolis
    USA English
    The companion expression is, "Wouldn't you know." Perhaps go figure is being phased out but it is a valid way of showing that you are disgusted without taking action. It is an ambivalent expression that provides both disgust and, as Biblio points out, is amusing. Along that humorous meaning it approaches, "You just can't beat City Hall."'
     
  7. sinkya Senior Member

    Chinese
    Hi. I'm not sure if I should start a new thread for my question.

    Can I say "I'll go figure." to mean "I will find that out myself.", for an example, when I visit somewhere for the first time and someone asks "Are you sure you know where the hotel is?"

    Thank you.
     
  8. Edinburgher Senior Member

    Scotland
    German/English bilingual
    No, you can't say "I'll go figure". You would say "I'll figure it out (for/by/) myself."
    The American idiom "go figure" (which was insignificant before the mid-1980s, since when its popularity has risen fast) should be understood, I think, as a comment about a situation that is so perplexing that it is difficult to understand: "Go figure that out if you can -- I'll bet you can't."
     
  9. sinkya Senior Member

    Chinese
    Thank you!
     
  10. sinkya Senior Member

    Chinese
    Hello again.

    What do you reply to "go figure"?

    "They cut tax rate for lower-taxed products this year. I did my taxes today, and turned out I had to pay more tax this year. Go figure, right?"
    ( I made these sentences so it can sound strange. I would appreciate it if you could kindly point out mistakes.)

    If that's my friend, and he said it jokingly, can I say "Yeah, haha."?
     
  11. Edinburgher Senior Member

    Scotland
    German/English bilingual
    "Go figure" is an exclamation and does not require a reply. In your example, the only thing inviting a response is "right?".

    Of course, even if there had been no "right?", there's nothing to stop you from volunteering a comment which either agrees or disagrees with whatever you think your friend means. If all you say is "Yeah, haha", this would probably be taken to mean that you have no wish to discuss the matter further.
     
  12. sinkya Senior Member

    Chinese
    Maybe I should have made sure if I got the meaning correctly first. "Go figure" in this example mean "I have no idea how it turned out that I had to pay more tax."

    What would natives say in response in that case?
     
  13. Edinburgher Senior Member

    Scotland
    German/English bilingual
    If that is what you meant, and that is what you said, they might respond with an explanation of how it could turn out like that.
    But that is not what "go figure" means; it would not be understood to mean that, so they would not respond in that way.
     
  14. sinkya Senior Member

    Chinese
    It is an expression of surprise, isn't it...?

    Maybe I got it wrong.

    Could you kindly tell me what it means in my sentence I posted earlier as below;

    "They cut tax rate for lower-taxed products this year. I did my taxes today, and turned out I had to pay more tax this year. Go figure, right?"

    Thank you.
     
  15. Edinburgher Senior Member

    Scotland
    German/English bilingual
    No, I wouldn't say it denotes surprise as such. It's more a kind of accepting exasperation, or defeatist criticism. You could almost replace it with "Isn't that just crazy?" or "That's just typical, isn't it?"
     

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