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I feel good

Q From an anonymous writer: Can’t proper usage allow me to say, for example, ‘I feel good’, and refer to my sense of well-being (not just sense of touch), rather than say, always, ‘I feel well’ referring to my sense of well-being?

A It’s an informal usage, particularly in the US, which dates back well into the nineteenth century, but is still regarded in some quarters as being non-standard. However, it is so common that we now have the adjective “feel-good” (or “feelgood”) formed from it. There is a small distinction of sense between the two forms, in that “feeling well” always refers to health, while “feeling good” refers more generally to one’s state of mind — to be happy, in good spirits, and not depressed. Contrast “feeling bad” in the sense of being embarrassed or unhappy about some situation, which is now regarded as being standard English.

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Copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
Page created 10 Oct. 1998

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The English language is forever changing. New words appear; old ones fall out of use or alter their meanings. World Wide Words tries to record at least a part of this shifting wordscape by featuring new words, word histories, words in the news, and the curiosities of native English speech.

World Wide Words is copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
This page URL: http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-goo1.htm
Last modified: 10 October 1998.