Posted by Smokey Stover on March 04, 2004
In Reply to: "Bully for you" ? ? ? posted by James Briggs on March 04, 2004
: : Curious as to what this phrase means and what sort of context you'd use it in. Sarcastically? As in "Good for you!"?
: Bully for you is a term indicating praise, sometimes with a hint of sarcasm but often not. At first sight it seems an odd use of "bully" until one realises that the word had a 16th century meaning of fine fellow, sweetheart which probably came from the middle Dutch Boele = Lover
James Briggs is absolutely correct. Bully as an adjective is used for "Excellent, first-rate," according to the MWOD (Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary), and the example they give is, naturally, "bully for you." It's the most frequently heard phrase containing the word as an adjective except possibly "bully pulpit," which uses the other meaning of bully, but as a noun used as an adjective (or so most people probably interpret it). I think most people probably associate the use of bully as an adjective with the era of Theodore Roosevelt; and the phrase "bully pulpit" is explicitly associated with him. SS