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Not bad at all

Posted by Victoria S Dennis on June 24, 2007

In Reply to: Not bad at all posted by ESC on June 24, 2007

: : Can the phrase: "Not bad at all" mean anything else but pretty good in American English? I'm a Filipino and learning English as a second language. My friend Rain asked me what I thought about her friend Honey's picture and to which I replied: "Not bad, not bad at all". Meaning I was pleased with what I saw, or so I thought. Rain told Honey and she took offense with what I said. I tried to defend myself saying that I meant she looked pretty but she wouldn't believe the expression "not bad at all" means pretty good. Have I used the expression the wrong way somehow?

: No. You used it correctly. "Not bad at all" is an understatement. You were actually saying you thought she looked quite good.

The same goes for British English. Over here it is also complimentary. (VSD)