She's good for a laugh.

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Jiung

Member
Chinese, Taiwan
Hi,

I know it's a bit difficult to ask someone to give me an explanation for a sentence without context, but still, I hope someone who can help me with this sentence:

She's good for a laugh.

Does it mean that "she" is humorous? And does "a laugh" here has the same function/explanation as that in "Paula’s a good laugh, isn’t she?"

Many thanks!

Jiung
 
  • foxfirebrand

    Senior Member
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    I agree with Brioche and would add that the expression doesn't imply that she's "good for a laugh" in the sense that there's something about her to laugh at. It means her company is good, she's full of humor, and any group that includes her will probably have a good time. It's a complimentary expression with no ironic undertone, at least to my ear.
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    gaer

    Senior Member
    US-English
    It also has another meaning.

    Example:

    "Politics are always good for a laugh. Comedian finds Bush administration a bottomless well of material for her act."

    In this case it means "to make fun of".
     

    maxiogee

    Banned
    English
    Indeed, there is an element of the derisory about it.
    "X says stupid things, she's always good for a laugh." <— We laugh at her, not with her.
     

    kertek

    Senior Member
    UK English
    You could certainly use it to mean someone is easily mocked.

    In another context, it could be used to say someone makes you laugh with them, but to me it is not as positive as saying "she's a good laugh". There's something about it that suggests "she's good for a laugh... but not much else," i.e. she's funny, but apart from that she's not too interesting.
     

    Kelly B

    Senior Member
    USA English
    I hear a combination of answers I've seen so far. I don't expect the laughter to be the mocking sort; still, I might interpret the phrase to mean that she is rather shallow. She is great fun to be around, but maybe not very interesting otherwise, or not the most supportive friend.
     

    Sallyb36

    Senior Member
    British UK
    it doesn't really have any of the other meanings, these are htings that people have assumed for some reason. She might be extremely interesting, and very deep, but could still be a good laugh.
     

    foxfirebrand

    Senior Member
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    Sallyb36 said:
    the same thing, means that she is not a boring person, she is someone fun.
    I agree. The derogatory stuff is being supplied by the beholder, and emanating from his or her attitude toward being "good for a laugh." In other words fun, frivolity, levity.

    If these qualities are esteemed, the meaning of the expression is simple to you. If they are set against traits like sobriety and industry to their disadvantage, then the expression will take on negative overtones, to you.
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    kertek

    Senior Member
    UK English
    If these qualities are esteemed, the meaning of the expression is simple to you. If they are set against traits like sobriety and industry to their disadvantage, then the expression will take on negative overtones, to you.
    It's not often I'm accused of sobriety, much less industriousness... :)

    But of course the meaning of the expression is defined by the speaker, not the listener. I think in this case the way it is said or the context should clear up any ambiguity as to whether the speaker is implying that the person is funny but vacuous, or genuinely good fun.
     

    moirag

    Senior Member
    English, England
    I agree with sally, it´s the same thing - but, then, I lived in Liverpool too, and the rest of the time in England - is kertek English? I doubt it comes down to that, but you´re always surprised....Maybe it´s just that people have said this about me and I don´t like to think it´s derogatory......?
     

    emma42

    Senior Member
    British English
    The phrase can mean both things. The proof of the meaning is in the usage. In Nottingham "she's good for a laugh" can mean both things. It is possibly not the same in Liverpool.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I've puzzled over this for a while, and suddenly it came to me.
    There is a difference between:
    She's good for a laugh
    - and -
    She's a good laugh.

    The first may be positive but often suggests somewhat derisory and dismissive undertones (the suggestion that she's only good for a laugh, not much else).
    The second is entirely positive.
     

    Crimea

    New Member
    English, Australia
    Can't add a whole lot more other than that "she's good for a laugh" often has an implication of "her" promiscuity, yet perversely "HE's good for a laugh" is, as panjandrum says, less accusatory and more descriptive of someone hollow or shallow.

    Possibly yet another "totally-missing-the-point" OzEnglish thing. We do that.
     

    foxfirebrand

    Senior Member
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    Yes, I think there may be an across-the-pond difference here. For one thing, "she's a good laugh" doesn't sound like idiomatic AE to me. If I heard it I'd understand more or less what it meant, but the expression itself sounds odd.

    "She's good for a laugh" can mean she's a party girl-- well it pretty much does. But it carries the implication that "life of the party does," and of course the speaker of the expression isn't necessarily a man.

    It might be said during a discussion of whom to include in a "girls' night out," the kind where "promiscuity" isn't an issue because male company is not anticipated nor looked on favorably.

    I also hear an element of dependability too-- she can be counted on to contribute fun to the occasion. To me that tips the scales in favor of regarding this as such a positive expression that you'd really have to skew it with intonation to make it suggestive-- and raw sarcasm to make it derogatory. An elbow, a wink and a nod, like that obnoxious guy Terry Jones (I think it is) plays in Monty Python.
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    kertek

    Senior Member
    UK English
    She's good for a laugh
    - and -
    She's a good laugh.

    The first may be positive but often suggests somewhat derisory and dismissive undertones (the suggestion that she's only good for a laugh, not much else).
    The second is entirely positive.
    I'm with you on this one Panjandrum!
     

    Sallyb36

    Senior Member
    British UK
    it only has derisive undertones in the same way that "He's really handsome" has derisive undertones (i.e if said in a totally derisive manner!)
     
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