What Does Business As Usual Mean?

Business as Usual Meaning

Definition: Regular routine despite hardship; nothing unusual.

This expression can mean either maintaining the status quo in spite of difficulties or simply maintaining the status quo. Both uses are common.

Origin of Business as Usual

As early as the late-1800s, this expression referred to store hours. For example, a store might say that they were open for business, as usual.

definition of business as usualThe term originated as an announcement businesses would use to say there were still open despite the weather, construction, or other kinds of interruptions.

The expression became popular during World War 1. Initially, politicians in Great Britain thought that the war would not disrupt trade and business. Leaders assured the public that businesses would operate as usual. Even once it became clear that the war would disrupt businesses and everyday life, people adopted the expression as a type of rallying cry or slogan. Winston Churchill was one of the people who helped to popularize this expression.

In the modern say, this phrase can be used in a positive or negative sense.

Examples of Business as Usual

what does business as usual meanHere is an example of a grandmother and her granddaughter using this expression while discussing their weekend plans.

Grandmother: Hello, darling. How was school today?

Granddaughter: It was fine. My friends invited me to go see a movie with them.

Grandmother: Oh, that sounds like fun.

Granddaughter: Yeah, I think I’ll enjoy it. What about you? Are you doing anything special this weekend?

Grandmother: No, just business as usual. I’ll spend a little time in the garden as I do every weekend. I’ll probably finish the book I’ve been reading.

The second dialogue shows a daughter and her father discussing the father’s impending divorce.

Father: I know you’re upset that your mother and I are getting divorced. It’s okay to feel upset.

Daughter: Of course I feel upset! Everything is going to change!

Father: No, that’s not true. Things will mostly be business as usual.

Daughter: But won’t we have to move?

Father: No, you won’t have to. I’m going to move somewhere close by, and we can visit often. Other than that, everything will stay the same.

More Examples

The below excerpt is about athletes on the New England Patriots football team. Winning championships is common for them.

  • And if Kraft, Belichick and Brady end up adding another trophy to their collection, it would be pretty much business as usual for them. –Washington Post

This quote questions whether or not a new president will change governmental policies or keep them the same.

  • Or, will he appoint another Wall Street banker to run the Treasury Department and continue business as usual? Will he, as he promised during the campaign, really take on the pharmaceutical industry and lower the price of prescription drugs? –New York Times

Summary

The phrase business as usual means continuing normal operating procedures.