I was all of about six years old, new to the adult world of swearing, when I learned what exactly NFG stood for. I was out in my grandfather's garage with my dad, watching him work on a huge old Buick roadboat, when he asked me to go get a can of WD-40. I brought back what turned out to be an empty can. My dad tried to spray it a couple of times and gave up. I was sent back with the can and instructions to tell my grandpa that the can was NFG.

Needless to say, I had no idea what it meant. I marched into my grandma's kitchen, full to the brim with visiting relatives, and made my announcement.

"Papa, this can is En Eff Gee."

Every eye in the place went to me. My grandmother turned her attention from the stove for a moment, took the can from me and said, clear as a bell:

"If it's no fucking good, go get a fresh one."

Needless to say, all my gathered relatives burst into raucous laughter and the story gets repeated, much to my grandma's horror, at every family gathering. When ever some one asks me where I learned how to swear, I tell them my granny taught me.


NFG has gained popular use in garages and manufacturing plants when rejected parts need to be labeled for disposal or recycling. I saw a large bin of scrap parts labeled NFG during a tour of a GM plant. Raising a question about it got me a wink from the tour guide. It is a semi-polite way of indicating that the piece is defective, and should not be used again. More recently, it has been adopted by the computer parts industry, where defects are not always visually obvious.

Just don't use it around kids.

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