it is what it is

Has anyone else noticed that this phrase is only used to describe something bad, like the Michigan economy, the Detroit Lions’ defense, or the futile search for Osama bin Laden?

You never hear:

“Sex.  It is what it is.”

“Snow day tomorrow!  It is what it is.”

“Jesus is coming!  It is what it is.”

Maybe we should “redeem” this phrase (thanks, Kuyper) by using it to describe things we like.  If nothing else, it may startle others and bring some humor to your day.  Can you think of any other funny examples that might work?


Add yours →

  1. “The Emergent church. It was what it was.”

  2. Zach:

    That’s funny, in an opposite sort of way. I see we’re going to need a scorecard to keep track of the misdirections.

  3. “Beer. It is what it is.”

  4. Being. It is what it is.

  5. Jonathan Shelley January 28, 2010 — 7:59 pm


    Please warn me before you post something so funny. I think I cracked a rib laughing so hard!

  6. Todd:

    I wish I had an award to give you, but the fact that you made Jonathan laugh is probably its own reward. That is really funny.

  7. NPR did a story on this phrase a couple of years ago… they called it “verbal tofu” (flavorless alone, but takes on the flavor of whatever you put it with):

    At the time, I thought that was brilliant. But now I see that it really tends to be more like verbal whitewash — an attempt to paint over something distasteful.

  8. Jonathan and mike, thanks. Ontological humor is really fundamental. makes me chuckle.

  9. YHWH, “I Am what I Am.”

    Or… Popeye, “I yam what I yam.”

  10. After Todd’s masterpiece, I had given up on finding anything worthy to post, but I can’t refuse this paraphrase from the State of the Union:

    Democracy. It is what it is.

  11. Jonathan

    Democracy. It is what it is? Depends on what your definition of is is.

  12. Jonathan Shelley February 2, 2010 — 8:35 am


    With jokes like that you will never complete your recovery.

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