a bad lot

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jakartaman

Senior Member
Korean
Hi, what does "a bad lot" mean?

When George Washington was preparing his third annual message to Congress, he first took suggestions from James Madison and Thomas Jefferson. He then asked Alexander Hamilton to draw up a first draft, which went back to Madison for a rewrite. Not a bad lot.

Thank you :)
 
  • jakartaman

    Senior Member
    Korean
    Thank you dermott. Just make it clear...
    You mean "not a bad lot" means "an impressive group of individuals," don't you?
    And you are saying "Not a bad lot" is commonly used (if my understanding of the phrase "a common device" is correct). Right?
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    Actually 'a bad lot' is an idiom meaning a bad person – a bad sort, a bad kind of person. 'Lot' is used for people with other adjectives, but mostly with 'bad'. In your example, however, the expression to concentrate on is 'not a bad'. This means "rather good, actually", and can be used with other words:

    She won seven gold medals at the Olympics. Not a bad haul.
    Their song was at number one for 25 weeks, which is not a bad run.
    She lived to 97, which is not a bad age.

    And in your example, 'lot' isn't one person but a group of people: Madison and all that lot.
     

    dermott

    Senior Member
    B.E. via Australian English
    Thank you dermott. Just make it clear...
    You mean "not a bad lot" means "an impressive group of individuals," don't you?
    And you are saying "Not a bad lot" is commonly used (if my understanding of the phrase "a common device" is correct). Right?
    I meant the device of using an apparent negative as a positive. For example, if someone asks me how I am, and I'm feeling pretty good, I could say that I'm feeling "not half bad".
     
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