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Back in the day, hearing "You look fine," was just the type of cat call you either loved or hated (perhaps a mix of the two). Still, it was a funky affirmation. Your bell bottoms and platforms were working. You were looking good.

Pinterest Board of Efrat Melter from

Fine has run the gamut as a colloquialism. Now, seeing "Fine!" in a text could mean someone is pretty pissed off with you. This is fine + hissy fit.

I like fine without the exclamation point. It is a way of saying all is good and right in the world. Question: "How are you? Response: "Fine." Four letters can be used to say so much. All pretty positive, unless you're using it as a cover, which many of us do. Question: "How are you? Response: "Fine," (the bottom has fallen out of my world) she said with a peevish smile.

It's also not so positive when you're asked to "read the fine print" in which case, you know you'd better slap on those readers or use a magnifying glass to examine the text before signing on the dotted line.

Fine is one of the words that varies greatly in meaning, depending on the time period, person saying it, honesty and reason for using it. It's all about context.

Happy Baby Sleeping: Image from Davenport Library Blog

"F" is for Fine.

Notes on my Theme:
This post is written for the 2015 A to Z Challenge. During this challenge, participating bloggers post once a day, in alphabetical order. This is done 6 days per week. Sundays are off. My theme presents words that are exciting. These words serve as thematic motifs in my writing. My theme also revolves around exclamation points. The words I've chosen to explore can replace or stand alone from the dreaded exclamation point, which writers are urged to avoid.


  1. A very complex word, when you analyse it!

    Annalisa, writing A-Z vignettes, at Wake Up, Eat, Write, Sleep

  2. Yup, I have just answered fine to a how are you question when I have two aching shoulders. Not that anyone really wants to hear all the bad things anyway.

    1. Thats so apropos, Jo! What a great example!

  3. "I'm fine."

    I'm so glad you chose "fine." I absolutely hate when I ask somebody if they'd like more this or that, e.g. 'Would you like more salad?" and the answer is, "I'm fine." What does that mean? I didn't ask you how you were.

    "Can I get you something to drink?"
    "I'm fine."

    How about "No, thanks" or "No, thank you."

    Now I'm an ESL teacher and I think all the ESL books need to be rewritten!

    1. I never thought about the ESL books in light of our ever-changing language preferences. Makes sense though.

  4. It is interesting how that one word can mean so many things! This is especially true of texting, where so much of the meaning can be lost.

    1. Stephanie, yes I believe text language is messing with good writing sense. With it came the rise of exclamation points.

  5. Thanks Stephanie, such a broad word. What about getting a traffic fine, library fine.. not so fine..

    1. Absolutely not okay Susan. I agree with your fine examples.

    2. :) :) :) (!) . sorry I had to add the exclamation!

    3. Yes, sometimes they're needed but obviously not as often as one might think.

  6. I think the tone contributes a lot as well. "Fine!" can sound resigned, angry, sarcastic - all negative - or enthusiastic meaning Great!

    If I ask my husband how I look and he says "fine" I'm not too flattered. I hear that as "you'll do" but he assures me that's not what he means!

    Thanks for visiting Adventures of a retired librarian.

    1. Yes, having someone say you look fine has many different meanings, clarified by the tone in which it's said.


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