Posted by James Briggs on May 17, 2005
In Reply to: Chance would be a fine thing posted by R. Berg on May 16, 2005
: : : What is the origin of the phrase: "chance would be a fine thing"? Is it used only in the UK? Perhaps someone might also like to define the appropriate context for the phrase. As I understand it, the phrase is used where one is talking about some eventuality or set of circumstances one would like to see come about but which one thinks unlikely - usually because of lack of co-operation or goodwill on the part of someone else.
: : I don't know the origin, but I would use it in circumstances such as this:
: : Person A 'I wouldn't drive a Rolls Royce'.
: : Person B 'Chance would be a fine thing'.
: : That is, something has been ruled out which was extremely unlikely in the first place.
: : I hope that makes sense.
: : DFG
: I'm in the U.S., and I've never heard it.
It's not uncommon in the UK - my mother and grandmother used it regularly 60 or more years ago. Less often heard now. Seems to be very UK based. What about NZ, Oz, etc?