Ever notice that whenever someone uses the phrase, “Good Man,” it is almost always from someone in authority to someone under authority to someone under it, sometimes by peers, and never by someone under authority to someone in authority.
Now don’t confuse this with someone calling someone a good man. A woman might be describing someone they are in love with and say that, “he is a good man.” A student may admire a past politician and say, “he was a good man.” Certainly these figures aren’t in authority over these men. And the student is certainly not considered a peer of the late politician.
Also by authority I do mean actual authority in the sense of an employer to an employee, or perhaps a schoolmaster to a student, but I also mean it in a more connotative sense, as in a 50 year old man to a 30 year old man, or perhaps an employee of the same position that has held that post longer than another employee of technically the same structural standing. Perhaps ‘senior’ would be a better word than authority.
Nevertheless, the phrase, “Good Man,” often used by one man to another is a slang term that is consistently used when one man hears a report of another’s success in carrying out a task. This is usually said to the person directly although it can be said about him if he is not present.
The interesting part to me, however, is the fact that it is almost invariably used by someone with seniority in the situation. A junior executive would quite comfortably say it to a member of the managerial staff, yet it would not make sense for even the most senior of executives to say it to the CEO.
A wife, as his peer, may say it to a husband when she learns he’s succeeded in some aspect, however his son would never do so. It just wouldn’t make sense. The only way it would make sense is if the son was using a type of subtle, even inadvertent, sarcasm, but by doing so he is rhetorically elevating himself or lowing his father to peer level. Not sure why this is, but it seems to be so.