close enough for government work

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Unknown. Some claims for origin in World War II, it is claimed that at the time it meant it could pass the most rigorous of standards; however, earliest specific claim of the phrase being used is after 1960, when it was already used in the modern derogatory fashion.

“Government work” is also a term for the manufacture of something on company time for personal use. For example, a custom trailer hitch made at a welding shop for the welder himself on the afternoon shift with no supervisors around is government work. Commonly heard in Ontario, Canada and northeast US.


close enough for government work

  1. (idiomatic, humorous, disparaging, slang) Good enough; not worth the time or effort of perfecting.