The Grammarphobia Blog

Have a good one, George!

Q: In your “Have a good one” posting, you never say where the expression comes from. I know. I coined it in 1979 or ’80 as a student at Michigan State University. When a cashier at a Quality Dairy in Lansing uttered the annoying “Have a nice day,” I blurted out, “Have a good one.” The phrase spread around town and migrated to other parts of the US. If you know how I can collect royalties, please let me know.

A: Well, the timing may be right, but don’t count on those royalties.

We did a Google Timeline search and found that the use of “have a good one” in the sense of goodbye apparently showed up about 30 years ago.

The earliest appearance is from the headline of an article about Washington’s Birthday in the Feb. 10, 1981, issue of the Spokane (Wash.) Daily Chronicle: “Whatever, George, / Have a good one!”

If you had in fact coined the usage, we would expect to see a few appearances of it in Michigan newspapers before the expression migrated out to Spokane.

But who knows? As more newspaper archives are digitized, maybe we’ll find a 1979 or ’80 example from Michigan, perhaps even from the Lansing State Journal.

Have a good one!

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