Oldie but a Goodie – Meaning, Origin and Usage

Do you really appreciate that classic rock song, that chocolate-chip cookie, or those old jeans you’ve been wearing for at least a decade? You can say that any of these things are an “oldie but a goodie”. This posts looks at the meaning of this idiom, which has itself become an “oldie but a goodie”.


The common idiom “an oldie but a goodie” is one with a rather straightforward meaning. It is used to describe anything that is old but good.

Music is the most common context in which you will encounter the saying “an oldie but a goodie”, but this expression can describe anything else, too. It is up to the user to decide what constitutes “old” and “good”.

​​Example Usage

Do you want to get a better idea of the ways in which you might be able to incorporate the saying “an oldie but a goodie” into a sentence? These examples might inspire you:

  • “You might think I’m weird, but I really love Neil Young’s music. I’m really into oldie but goodie music, you know?”
  • “Yes, let’s have grandma’s apple pie for Christmas. That recipe is an oldie but a goodie!”
  • “The original Star Wars trilogy is an oldie but a goodie, and I’ll never get bored of watching it.”


The origins of the idiom “an oldie but a goodie” are surprisingly difficult to uncover.

The word “oldie” was first used to describe old people in the nineteenth century. By the 1940s, however, “oldie” had come to primarily describe old movies or old music. It is likely that the phrase “an oldie but a goodie” arose around this same time.

The description “oldies” was used for radio segments playing exclusively older music as early as the 1960s.

In the grand scheme of things, “an oldie but a goodie” is unquestionably a very new idiom, and one that was not used before the twentieth century.

Today, the saying is usually used to describe “old” music or films that still remain excellent. The music and films in question are often at least several decades old, but can also be much older.

However, anything deemed old but good can absolutely be said to be an “oldie but a goodie” — and by choosing to use this phrase, the speaker or writer indicates that the thing in question has not dropped in value one bit, and has, if anything, become better with time.

Phrases Similar to Oldie but a Goodie

Instead of “an oldie but a goodie”, you could also say:

  • A golden oldie — a term used to describe movies, songs, and other forms of art that are now considered vintage or old, but which are still good.
  • Classic or vintage — both words to indicate that something is old but good.
  • Timeless — always good, no matter how much time passes.

Phrases Opposite to Oldie but a Goodie

If something is old, but not good, you can say that it is:

  • Past its prime
  • Past its sell-bye date
  • Over the hill — used to describe a person.
  • No spring chicken — a mildly derogatory term used to describe an old person.

​What Is the Correct Saying?

The correct saying is “an oldie but a goodie”. It refers to something (or occasionally someone) that has not lost any of its qualities over time.

​​Ways People May Say Oldie but a Goodie Incorrectly

The phrase “an oldie but a goodie” is rather difficult to use incorrectly. You could certainly refer to last night’s pizza as an oldie but a goodie if you wanted to, for example, though some people may argue that a few decades have to pass before a song, film, or book can be considered “an oldie”.

​​Acceptable Ways to Phrase Oldie but a Goodie

You can use the saying “an oldie but a goodie” to praise anything that’s old but still good. The phrase is most commonly used when discussing music or films.

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