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attagirl

[ at-uh-gurl ]
/ ˈæt əˌgɜrl /
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interjection Informal.

(used as an enthusiastic expression of encouragement or approval to a girl, woman, or female animal.)

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Origin of attagirl

First recorded in 1905–10; see origin at attaboy, girl
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

VOCAB BUILDER

What does attagirl mean?

Attagirl is an informal expression of enthusiastic praise or encouragement addressed to girls, women, and female animals (such as one’s dog).

Attagirl is an interjection, meaning it’s a term used to express emotion, often outside of a sentence.

The term attaboy can be used in the same way to address boys, men, and male animals.

Such terms are generally used as a way to cheer someone on, similar to saying “Great job!” or “Way to go!” For example, coaches or parents might say it to a child playing a sport after they’ve done something particularly good.

Attagirl is sometimes used as a noun referring to a statement of praise, as in The boss doesn’t usually give out attagirls like that, so she must be pretty impressed.  

Example: Attagirl, Sarah! Great catch!

Where does attagirl come from?

The first records of attagirl come from the early 1900s, around the same time as attaboy. Both terms were first and are primarily used in the U.S. The first part of the word is thought to be a shortened form of that’s a or that’s the, but it’s origin isn’t certain.

A similar phrase is That’s my girl! Obviously, this is said by parents, typically as a form of expressing pride in their daughter and something she has accomplished. Attagirl can imply this pride, but it’s primarily a way of cheering someone on, and that person doesn’t have to be the speaker’s daughter. Although the word girl appears inside the word, it can also refer to women—or even animals, especially dogs, as in Sit, Lassie. Attagirl!

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What are some other forms related to attagirl?

  • attagirls (plural noun)

What are some synonyms for attagirl?

What are some words that share a root or word element with attagirl

 

What are some words that often get used in discussing attagirl?

 

How is attagirl used in real life?

Attagirl is always used informally. It’s perhaps most commonly used by parents to cheer on their daughters during sports.

Try using attagirl!

Is attagirl used correctly in the following sentence?

Attagirl, Tina—now you’re getting the hang of it!

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