Slang dictionary

it is what it is

[it iz wuht it iz]

What does it is what it is mean?

Deal with it. It is what it is is an expression used to characterize a frustrating or challenging situation that a person believes cannot be changed and must just be accepted.

Related words

c'est la vie, 🤷 Person Shrugging emoji, This is fine, surrender cobra, water under the bridge

Where does it is what it is come from?


According to the New York Times, the phrase it is what it is appeared as early as an 1949 article by J.E. Lawrence in The Nebraska State Journal. Lawrence used the phrase when describing the difficulty faced during frontier-era life in Nebraska:

“New land is harsh, and vigorous, and sturdy. It scorns evidence of weakness. There is nothing of sham or hypocrisy in it. It is what it is, without apology.”

It is what it is picked up steam in the 21st Century. A 2004 USA Today article by Gary Mihoces, titled “It is what it is,” pointed out that the phrase had become popular in sports about losses. Mihoces cited over a dozen examples of athletes and coaches using the phrase in that year alone.

It is what it is was noted in politics in 2004, when, according to The New York Times, President George W. Bush responded to an aide telling him his opponent John Kerry was leading the polls with, “It is what it is.”

Besides sports and politics, it is what it is has also seen exhaustive use in business, the military, and psychology. It’s also titled songs and even a 2001 film. Throughout these contexts, it is what it is is used as a kind of verbal shrug signaling resigned acceptance of an unchangeable situation.

For those expecting an actual solution rather than the non-solution of it is what it is, the phrase can be especially annoying. In fact, some people really dislike the term for its unhelpful vagueness…

Often times, according to critics of it is what it is, the phrase is used as an excuse by people who think the real solution is too difficult or time-consuming…

It remains to be seen if the phrase will ever shake it’s defeatist nature but for now, well, it is what it is.

Examples of it is what it is

It's a complex issue, it's a shame, but it is what it is.
Donald Trump quoted by Mariam Khan, ABC News, November 2018
I mean, that's a tough one to figure out, but it is what it is. We worked hard all week to have a different outcome. We’ve just got to keep on grinding.
Rob Gronkowski quoted by Patriots, December 2018

Who uses it is what it is?

It is what it is remains a popular truism in sports. It is often used to shake off a bad call or lost game and move on.

Elsewhere, it is what it is says that you accept that something just isn’t going to change no matter what you do.

And, of course, it’s a common retort when someone poses a question that can’t be answered…

Just Added

silky mom, WDYM, mid, almond mom, 🫶 Heart Hands emoji


This is not meant to be a formal definition of it is what it is like most terms we define on, but is rather an informal word summary that hopefully touches upon the key aspects of the meaning and usage of it is what it is that will help our users expand their word mastery.