There are a variety of different phrases and idioms in the English language. While they might not always make sense if you don’t already know what they mean, these phrases are perfectly correct.
It is correct to say “best of luck” as an informal interjection and idiom which means you hope for someone’s success. We might say this genuinely or sarcastically to someone trying to accomplish a difficult task, and it generally carries more weight than “Good luck” or “Lots of luck!” It often functions as an interjection or minor sentence since it does not mention the subject, though we understand this to be the speaker.
In this article, we will go through the proper circumstances for using “Best of Luck,” as well as any rules about idioms and interjections that may determine how you can use it. We’ll be using the term “phrase” throughout the article for clarity.
What Does “Best of Luck” Mean?
“Best of luck” is an informal interjection that means you hope for someone’s success. The literal meaning of the expression is “I wish the best of luck to you,” but we often use it idiomatically to wish for someone’s success. (source).
“Best of Luck” is an expression of encouragement and a wish for success. You are essentially telling someone that you want them to have the greatest degree of luck, with both “best” and “luck” functioning as nouns (source).
However, you should be careful with the context and the inflection you have when saying the phrase. Sometimes, others can interpret it as sarcastic, carrying a meaning opposite to what it would when written out.
If you’re using “Best of luck” sarcastically, it bears the connotation of someone taking on an impossible task. Thus, it could mean you’re not wishing them the best at all, but, in fact, are mocking their effort!
Although it may be difficult to tell when written out, body language usually makes it obvious whether or not the speaker is genuine when trying to figure out if they mean well or if they’re using it sarcastically.
Is It OK to Say “Best of Luck”?
Assess whether the context is formal or informal since using “Best of Luck” is a more casual way of wishing someone good luck. Thus, it is perfectly fine to say, “Best of luck” in a relatively relaxed environment.
Is It Grammatically Correct to Say “Best of Luck”?
“Best of luck” is an informal convention and grammatically incomplete as a minor sentence. You will encounter it far more often in conversation than in academic writing (source).
As a stand-alone interjection, we would capitalize the initial “B” and might follow the phrase up with an exclamation point (“Best of luck!”) or a comma if it is the signoff on an email or written message (“Best of luck, [your signature]”).
The beginning “Best of” resembles a superlative adjective, though it is a noun expressing the highest degree of something. Here are a few other examples of this form:
- He’ll have the best of care.
- We only offer the best to our clients.
A complete sentence includes a subject and a verb, while a phrase doesn’t. Thus, we might view ‘Best of luck’ as a fragmented phrase. However, conversational English relies on numerous minor sentences that are established pleasantries, greetings, or expressions of encouragement.
Though it does not contain a complete subject or predicate, it expresses a complete thought that the addressee will understand.
How Do You Use “Best of Luck”?
Using “Best of Luck” is particularly simple because of its nature as an established phrase. Since it’s a very conventional phrase, it stands best on its own or with a simple explanation attached. Most English speakers will easily understand it.
For an example of a similar, stand-alone phrase, have a look at our case study, “Is It Correct to Say Safe Travels.”
Any time someone is setting off to do a difficult task, you can encourage them just by using “Best of Luck!” on its own. You can also add a supplemental explanation, often attached by punctuation such as the em-dash.
- Best of luck — when I took that exam last year, it was difficult.
- They’re going to love you at that job interview — best of luck!
Again, we can also use “Best of luck” sarcastically. While it’s difficult to write out inflection in text, that might sound something like this:
- Oh, you got the professor that failed you last year? Best of luck.
Either way, “Best of luck” is a phrase we always use in a context where someone is facing a challenge. We would rarely write it out unless it functions as dialogue in a creative piece or as something reflective. Examples of this include:
- “Best of luck!” she waved her off on her way to work.
- I wished her the best of luck and sent her on her way.
As you can see, even though these uses differ slightly, they still connect to the same overarching idea of wishing someone well.
The most common use of “Best of Luck” is as an informal interjection. An interjection is an aside or interruption in a sentence or conversation. While you usually don’t use “Best of luck” to interrupt, it can be a segue into a farewell or a change of topic.
Other interjections include phrases like “Congratulations!” “Listen” or “Alas.” Although most of these phrases connote a sentence that would follow, sometimes they can stand by themselves, such as “Best of luck.”
While you can use “Best of luck” both at the beginning and the end of a sentence, it would be somewhat odd to place it in the middle in most conventional circumstances. It usually functions as a closing statement and can even replace a “goodbye.”
Although it usually stands on its own, you may find it in the middle of a larger sentence when someone describes or references the interaction of others within a complete sentence.
- She wished her the best of luck and went on her way.
Of course, if this situation was unfolding in real-time, it would simply sound more like this:
- She said, “Best of luck!” and then turned and went on her way.
Clearly, if you were the one speaking as opposed to describing the situation, the phrase’s placement would still be either at the beginning or end of the sentence.
When Can You Use “Best of Luck”?
You can use “Best of Luck” in a relaxed environment to encourage someone, or you can use it sarcastically to mean someone is unlikely to accomplish something. Thus, timing and tone are very important.
Although “Best of luck” generally indicates that you’re hoping for someone’s success in something challenging, it is best to make sure this event they are preparing for is one closer to that of success than of grief.
For example, although dealing with the loss of a partner is a challenge and something difficult, saying “Best of luck” at a moment like this is inappropriate. It may cause the other person to feel overlooked and might make them feel like you aren’t taking their problems seriously.
In these circumstances, perhaps closer to situations where an individual faced a challenge they did not overcome, alternative phrases might include more empathetic or encouraging expressions like “Stay strong” or “Hang in there.”
It’s important to note the context clues — make sure you’re taking into account what you know of the situation beforehand to figure out whether or not this is an appropriate time to use an informal “Best of luck.”
Another situation in which you can use “Best of luck” is as an email signoff. While many people use alternatives like “Best,” “Sincerely,” or “Cheers,” using “Best of luck” can be a great, casual way to express well wishes to coworkers or friends.
Since this is a slightly more formal signoff, it probably wouldn’t be as appropriate with close friends or family, but signing off a work email with this expression will indicate gratitude and positive wishes to your colleagues.
In What Context Can You Use “Best of Luck”?
Use the phrase when speaking to someone directly on a challenge they are about to face. This challenge can come from academics, family life, personal accomplishments, sports or other competitions, and career-related endeavors.
Ensure that you are making this wish directly to the person unless you ask them to relay it to someone else. For example, “Wish her best of luck” would be an acceptable way to phrase something like that.
Again, make sure you use the phrase “Best of luck” in the appropriate context to avoid hurting anyone’s feelings — sometimes, the context and the inflection of the phrase will leave the listener believing you are being disingenuous or flippant.
A good rule of thumb is to check if you would use a more conventional phrase like “Good luck!” first. If that seems like it would fit in well, then it would likely be perfectly appropriate to say “Best of luck” instead.
Using “Best of Luck” in a Full Sentence
When using “Best of luck” in a full sentence, you will likely use it referentially. This means that you are referencing the phrase as someone has already said it or will say it.
- He wished him the best of luck as he left.
- Tell her I wish her the best of luck!
Both sentences are complete and use “the best of luck” as a noun phrase instead of a stand-alone exclamation.
When Not to Use “Best of Luck”
It would also be a little odd to use “Best of luck” in a past tense sentence structure, as in:
- He had the best of luck finding a partner.
However, it would likely be more appropriate if you aren’t speaking about a particular situation but a recurring event.
- He always had the best of luck in finding a partner.
However, even a phrase like this sounds a little awkward. It may be easier to just replace this with “He was always lucky” instead.
Furthermore, there are not only grammatical reasons to avoid using “Best of luck” but also contextual ones. Be aware of these in social situations.
For instance, don’t use “Best of luck” when someone might be upset. While they might need some luck to recover from a debilitating loss or injury fully, this might come off as disingenuous. Opt for another phrase instead.
What Can You Use Instead of “Best of Luck”?
There are a variety of phrases that you can use when you don’t want to use “Best of luck.” Perhaps the situation doesn’t call for something as intense as “Best,” and you want something less casual. Here are some alternatives you can use:
For something a little more formal, try, “Wish you all the best!” or “Wishing you the best of luck!”
If you’re looking to be a little more idiomatic and take full advantage of these phrases, try one that’s a little more figurative. Examples of these are “Break a leg,” “Knock them dead,” or “Blow them away!” We might use these in advance of a performance of any sort (source).
Other general expressions of encouragement might include, “Fingers crossed” or “You’ll do great!” and, of course, don’t forget about the standard, “Good luck!” — it’s an easy choice that’s appropriate in most scenarios.
Of course, if the situation is more sensitive, opt for something less reliant on just the concept of luck. Anything from “Hang tight” to “Be brave” might be more appropriate, depending on the scenario and the listener’s challenge.
Phrases and Idioms
An idiom is an expression whose meaning is not predictable from the usual meanings of its constituent elements (source).
The main difference between an idiom and a phrase is the figurative nature of the idiom. A phrase can be any short string of words, as long as it makes sense grammatically. An idiom, on the other hand, is a more symbolic phrase that already has established patterns of use. While most idioms are phrases, not all phrases are idioms.
This article was written for strategiesforparents.com.
For more information about popular idioms, check out our article “Humor Me: the Meaning and Usage of this Phrase.”
The phrase “Best of luck” is an idiom expressing a wish for another’s success. Grammatically, it functions as a minor sentence since we understand the subject and object. Just be careful of your tone since it is possible to misinterpret “Best of Luck.”
When we include it as part of a larger sentence, we are generally referring to someone else’s conversation.