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"It Is What It Is" Situations

Updated on May 11, 2020
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Rev. Margaret Minnicks is an ordained Bible teacher. She writes many articles that are Bible lessons.

"It Is What It Is" Meaning

"It is what it is" is an expression that has made its way into modern-day conversations. The phrase is generally used to indicate that the speaker has accepted the outcome of a situation whether it is a success or a failure.

Someone may say, "It is what it is" to express resigned acceptance or frustration about a situation. When there is no ready answer to a question, problem, or unpleasant circumstance, people might say, "It is what it is." For example, when someone asks why something bad happened, the person to blame may say, "It is what it is" as a way to stop the conversation because the circumstance is simply a fact and must be accepted or dealt with as it exists without having to keep talking about it.

People might use the expression in response to something positive. However, most of the time, it is used to respond to something bad, negative, or distasteful.

"It is what it is" should put an end to an ongoing conversation. In essence, the speaker is saying, "I don't want to talk about it any longer." It's another way of saying, "There's nothing that can be done about a situation."

Famous Uses of "It Is What It Is"

Some people use the phrase more often than others. Then there are some people who never use the expression. When the phrase is used, usually no explanation is needed. "It is what it is" is self-explanatory and is usually understood based on its context.

It is not unusual to hear the expression used by people involved in sports and politics. New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is known to have a habit of using the expression during press conferences after games. Reporters know when he uses that particular phrase, it means he is dodging their questions and wants the interview to end quickly.

The coach of the United States hockey team at the 2006 Winter Olympics responded to questions about how hard his team members were pushing themselves and were getting very little rest. The coach said, "We're going to do the best that we can. It is what it is."

Politicians also use the phrase to end discussions about uncomfortable subjects they would rather not talk about. When Al Gore lost the election in 2000, he commented, "I strongly disagreed with the Supreme Court decision and the way in which they interpreted and applied the law. But I respect the rule of the law, so it is what it is."

To this day, Gore and a lot of Americans believed he should have won the presidential election of 2000 against George W. Bush. However, when the recount was done, the Supreme Court made its decision that was not in favor of Gore. He conceded the race with the thought in the back of his mind that it should have been him to run the country. Not all "It is what it is" is as serious as that, but the concept is still the same.

Since most people know what the expression means, it has become a common phrase in pop culture. "It is what it is" has become popular in books, songs, films, and in everyday conversations.


  • A 2007 autobiography by David Coulthard
  • A 2014 book by Lisa Sugarman
  • A 2015 book by Colin Rath


  • A 1982 album by The Hitmen
  • A 2002 song by The String Cheese Incident
  • A 2008 rap album by ABN
  • A 2010 song by Lifehouse
  • A 2013 song by Kacey Musgraves
  • A 2017 album by Johnny Logan


  • A 2001 film by Billy Frolic
  • A 2014 film by Mike Cunliffe

Radio Show

  • A radio show hosted by Sean Baligian

Any One Can Use the Expression

"It is what it is" is not limited to sportspeople, politicians, songwriters, authors, filmmakers, or anyone else who chooses to use the expression. However, it is good to know what the expression means.

It is interesting to know that no matter who uses it, it means the same thing. The general meaning is that the person who says it is accepting the results of something even though he is not pleased with the results. Also, it sends that message that the discussion is over, and there is no need to continue with the conversation.

Less Stressful

People who say, "It is what it is" tend to be less stressful than people who try to make things happen during useless situations.

People who say, "It is what it is" usually move on without dwelling on what could have been or what should have been. They use their "What it is situations" to learn a valuable lesson to do better in the future. Besides, it is liberating to say the expression and leave the situation in the rearview mirror.

Have you ever used the expression, "It is what it is"?

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Have you ever heard anyone use the phrase, "It is what it is"?

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