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"way to ~"

Posted by Smokey Stover on December 01, 2006

In Reply to: "Way to ~" posted by thankful on December 01, 2006

: "way to ~"
: if a person says "way to do something"
: can it be sarcastic?
: please give more than 1 example of this usage and explain exactly what it conveys.
: thanks!

It can be sarcastic, but needn't be. Sarcastic: you watch someone screw something up badly, and you say, "Way to go, genius!" Non-sarcastic: Jim tells off, perhaps drives off, some wretch trying to hit on your friend, you say, "Way to go, Jim." You're watching TV and some newscaster unexpectedly gives the lie to some oily politician trying to use him or her to spread his hypocrisy. You say, to yourself or to the TV set, "Way to go, Brian [or Katie]."

While you can use the expression with other verbs, that would be a little less common. "[That's the] Way to screw up, chump!" Or (non-sarcastic), "Way to make an old sweater look good, Ethel!" (Does Ethel slap you or smile?)

What it conveys? Just add, in brackets, the words omitted: "That's the..," as in, That's the way to go, i.e., that's the way to accomplish what you are trying to do. Obviously that can be said either sarcastically or sincerely.

English sentences would doubtless be easier to understand without ellipsis. But would they be as much fun?