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Good Thing

A Good Thing, written with capital letters for added emphasis (and with the words similarly emphasised when spoken) is something which has positive consequences for the subject under discussion. The opposite of a Good Thing is a Bad Thing.

The phrase originated in the humorous parody of British history text books, 1066 and All That (1930) by W. C. Sellar and R. J. Yeatman, and has since become a mainstream idiom in the United Kingdom. It has also become well-established among hackers in the United States, where it can have the following meanings:

  1. Self-evidently wonderful to anyone in a position to notice: "A language that manages dynamic memory automatically for you is a Good Thing."
  2. Something that can't possibly have any ill side-effects and may save considerable grief later: "Removing the self-modifying code from that shared library would be a Good Thing."
  3. When said of software tools or libraries, as in "YACC is a Good Thing", it specifically connotes that the thing has drastically reduced a programmer's work load.

The terms Right Thing and Wrong Thing are thought to have a similar derivation.

The original version of this article came from the Jargon File.