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Whatever Floats Your Boat


"Whatever floats your boat."


"Different people have different interests."


People use this expression to acknowledge others' rights to different

interests, regardless of how strange their interests may seem. This

expression is often used sarcastically.


Betty:      “You don't want any milk in your tea?"

Maggie:  “No, thanks. I like it black.”

Betty:      “No sugar, either?"

Maggie:  “Nope!”

Betty:      “That's so bitter! How can you drink it?"

Maggie:  “That's what I like. That's all.”

Betty:      “O.K. Whatever floats your boat."


1. A very similar expression is "Different strokes for different folks."

2. Literature Reference: Author Zadie Smith uses this expression in a May 7th, 2007 short story for The New Yorker, "Hanwell Senior," to have another character criticize the protagonist for complaining: "Still telling that old chestnut? Dear, oh dear. Bit antique that story, isn’t it? I’d rather call a spade a spade, let everything come up roses. Well, whatever floats your boat, Hanwell, I’m sure."                     

3. Media Reference #1: Journalist K.J. Dell' Antonia uses this expression in an April 22nd, 2014 article for The New York Times, entitled "Do You Want a Girl Toy or a Boy Toy? McDonald’s Says Workers Won’t Ask," to describe her frustration with gender-specific toys: "Well, I have children who need to have exactly the same thing or it is not fair, so I would like two or three of whatever floats your boat, thanks. And I would like you not to tell my son that My Little Pony is for girls, or tell my daughter that Skylanders is for boys." (  

4. Media Reference #2: Journalist Rachel Martin uses this expression in a November 22nd, 2015 NPR piece ("Don't Mess With My Stuffing: Thanksgiving's Most Hotly Debated Dish") to express her surprise at a person who is devoted to a particular brand

of stuffing: "Hey, whatever floats your boat. Whatever tastes good, right?" (

(At 3 minutes and 5 seconds into the broadcast.) 

5. Media Reference #3: Bob Odenkirk's character of "Saul Goodman" uses this expression in season 5, episode 11 of the television series Breaking Bad ("Confessions") to express his surprise at his client's interest in relocating to Alaska: "Alaska? O.K., well, that's a different vibe. I never figured you for a big moose lover, but whatever floats your boat." (At 39 minutes and 33 seconds into the episode. Originally aired August 19th, 2012.) 

MLS English Language Program Website (ww
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