Been There, Done That


"Been there, done that."


"I am not interested in repeating the experience you mentioned

because I have already experienced it and it was a bad experience."


People usually use this expression when they reject the suggestions

of others. They are not interested in these suggestions because they

have already had the experience and it was unpleasant. A sense of 

boredom is usually implied. This expression is also used to empathize 

with others.


James:       "Hi, honey. What would like to do for dinner tonight?"

Veronica: "I don't know. What do you want to do?"

James:       "How about Thai?"

Veronica: "I don't feel like Thai tonight."

James:       "O.K. What about that Chinese place in Harvard Square?"

Veronica: "Been there, done that."

James:       "Let's do Italian, then."

Veronica: "Fine."


1. This expression originated in the 1986 film Ferris Bueller's Day Off, in which a high school teacher takes the attendance of a disinterested class. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KS6f1MKpLGM) (At 5 minutes and 1 second into the film.)

2. Literature Reference: Author Doug Allyn uses this expression in a 2014 short story for Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine ("The Snow Angel") to have the protagonist empathize with another character, who is hung over: "He shook his head, then knuckled his eyes. Trying to remember his name. I totally sympathized. Been there, done that."  

3. Media Reference #1: Journalist Roger Cohen uses this expression in an October 11th, 2019 article for The New York Times ("The Free World at 30") to reject nationalism: "I do not believe this undertaking can be advanced through nationalism and barriers, mythmaking and drum rolls, incitement and xenophobia. Been there, done that, suffered. The end point of nationalism, as François Mitterrand observed, is war." (https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/11/opinion/democracy-free-speech.html)

4. Media Reference #2: Professor Joan Johnson-Freese uses this expression in a July 11th, 2019 NPR interview to describe American disinterest in returning to the Moon, in contrast to the interest of other nations: "They saw that we had an attitude of landing on the moon and, sadly, kind of looking around and saying, been there, done that, got the belt buckle. And we went home, so they decided that they were going to develop their lunar program in a very different way." (https://www.npr.org/2019/07/11/740871366/why-so-many-countries-have-their-sights-set-on-visiting-the-moon)

(At 1 minute and 40 seconds into the broadcast.)

5. Media Reference #3: Krysten Ritter's character of "Jessica Jones" uses this expression in a conversation with Mike Colter's character of "Luke Cage" in season 1, episode 3 of the television series Jessica Jones ("AKA It's Called Whiskey") to describe her failed experience as a superhero:

Luke:       "Being a hero just puts a target on your back."

Jessica:  "Yeah. Been there, done that."

Luke:       "The hero gig?"

Jessica:  "I gave it a shot once."

(At 5 minutes and 16 seconds into the episode. Originally aired November 20th, 2015.)

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