The idiom “as good as new” has different meanings, and the situation during which it is used will determine which meaning applies. Something that is described as being “as good as new” might be a used item in excellent or like-new condition. On the other hand, it might be an item that needed repair, and now that it has been repaired its condition is such that it seems “as good as new.”
Generally, when a person describes a used item as being “as good as new,” the item’s condition makes it look as if it is new. For example, people who sell items such as clothing that has not been worn or children’s toys that have not been played with might describe these items as being as good as or like new. Similarly, someone who wants to sell a digital camera that has only been used to take a few pictures might describe the camera as being “as good as new.” Usually, these items have already been purchased and owned by someone else, but the original owners either rarely or never used them. The used item is not new, but because it is so durable or has been cared for so meticulously, it looks or functions as if it is new.
When a person describes a repaired item as being “as good as new,” it means the item was once broken or otherwise damaged but it is now repaired. Typically, for the item to be compared to its new state, the repair must be such that the item looks like it did when it was new, or functions in exactly the same way. Often, such a description is applied to common household items like a repaired microwave, television, or telephone. The saying can be used for more detailed repairs such as restored vehicles and old items like polished antique silverware. The repaired item is not new, but its physical appearance or the way it functions resembles the way the item looked or functioned when it was new.
Similar to most English sayings, the phrase “as good as new” can be applied to a variety of other less obvious situations. For example, a pet owner might use it to describe his dirty dog after it has had a bath, or a mother might use it to describe her baby after she changes his diaper. Too, some examples are less tangible. A person who was once sick or in need of surgery might describe his health as being “as good as new” once he has recovered.