What does go figure mean? Here’s the full explanation with 4 examples

Slang is an extremely important aspect of language and the change it undergoes. To start off, language change happens as a result of young people and part of that change is due to slang. When new slangs are created, language is being changed and sometimes that change becomes permanent.

One thing is for sure, slang will continually evolve, sometimes transforming old expressions into new ones with new meanings. Take, for instance, the expression “Go figure”. At face value, it seems like just that, telling someone to go figure something out.

What does “Go figure” mean?

“Go figure” is used as a reply in instances when you want someone to come to or calculate a sensible conclusion. Using “Go figure” would suggest in a rhetorical manner that whomever you are talking to has to find sense in that particular situation and it more than likely that they won’t find it.

“Go figure” is a phrase used when you want someone to try to understand something, particularly if that thins is extremely astonishing or contradictory.

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Where does “Go figure” originate from?

“Go figure is what is known as a Yidglish variation of Gey vays which is Yiddish for “go know”. Generally, it is an expression of astonishment that something unforeseen has happened. The earliest occurrence of “go figure” is recorded in 1910, however, it is in this instance used in an unrelated sense. It was also used as an expression alongside other meanings. “Go figure” to mean surprise is first recorded in the late 60s and early 70s in mostly Jewish contexts. This points to the fact that “Go figure” has always had its roots in the earlier Yiddish expression, rather than being a logical or mathematical idiom that originated in English.

It could also be said that “Go figure” is derived from “It figures” which has its origins from at least the 1790s in contexts where it meant the same thing as “it stands to reason”. This is perhaps the same expression that is used today. “It figures” has been used for much longer in English before “Go figure” came into existence. There are some schools of thoughts that believe, “Go figure” is essentially unrelated to “It figures” simply because “It figures” has a longer and more storied history in the English language. The only thing these idioms share is the second word in the phrase “figure”.

4 examples of using “Go figure” in a sentence

Using “Go figure” to highlight pertinent and related information

This example is basically using “Go figure” to highlight something important:

“I hope you know the fireworks start by 8 tonight. We have to get there early if we want to find great spots to watch them. Side note don’t forget to pack the baby’s ear plugs. The fireworks are great for us, but they can be quite loud for her”.

Using “Go figure” to highlight or change the meaning of a sentence

This is another, lesser used example of “Go figure”. This is because it is extremely specific.

For instance, you could say something like “the bosses kept wanting to talk about the duration of the deal, completely forgetting that there were bigger fish to fry. Go figure”.

In the example above, when you use “Go figure” you are saying that your bosses are concentrating on what really is a fringe issue, instead of concentrating on more pressing matters at hand.

This instance emphasizes what the problem is and where the focus should really be. That being said, it isn’t really used, especially not in written form as it can cause a lot of confusion to the reader. Trying to decipher what it is the speaker meant can mean you too focus on the wrong issue at hand.

Using “Go Figure in a sarcastic manner

In this instance, you are simply using “Go figure” to highlight that someone is stating the obvious. A few of those examples are:

“Go figure, boys and girls are completely different”

“Yes, it is 10 past the time you were supposed to be here. Go figure”

“Who knew women were from another planet. Go figure”

“Go figure that one out, Nimrud.”

“Go figure over time”

“Imagine the irony, go figure”

Using “Go figure” as a request or an order to have someone find out information

“Go figure out what time we have to be there”

“Go figure where exactly we are supposed to go to”

“I don’t have all the answers man, go figure it out”

“Let’s go figure out how we are going to save this business”

“Just go over there and figure it out”

“I’m curious to what those two are up to. Go figure it out”

“I heard someone at the door, go figure out who that is”