Not too shabby is a colloquial expression, used to understate outstanding results.
While it is similar to “not bad”, “not too shabby” is actually synonymous with “excellent” or “great work”.
The word “shabby” carries a meaning of worn out, rugged and derelict, used mostly in relation to fabrics and clothing.
While the exact origin of the phrase is unknown, early mentions of the phrase emerge in the United Kingdom in the 19th century.
It was truly popular in Britain’s industrial areas in the 1930’s, eventually gaining further traction among Brits.
Over the years, however the popularity of “not too shabby” would decrease in England, with the expression only remaining in use in heavy industry areas.
“Not too shabby” would first appear in the United States in the 1960’s.
The phrase had seen a resurgence in popularity in England, appearing in the slang of many Brits.
Thanks to the internet, the popularity of the expression grew significantly.
Starting in the early 2010’s, Americans began to adopt the phrase from UK based YouTubers.
“Not too shabby” was first defined on Urban Dictionary in 2003.
- Urban Dictionary – Not too shabby