What Does It’s Not All It’s Cracked Up To Be Mean?

It’s Not All It’s Cracked Up to Be Meaning

Definition: Something is not as impressive as people say it is.

Origin of It’s Not All It’s Cracked Up to Be

This idiom was likely derived from a lesser-known definition of crack, which can mean to tell, talk, or to praise, depending on the context. This meaning stems from Middle English and is seen in other expressions such as cracking a joke.

The earliest written usage of this expression in the exact form of it’s not all it’s cracked up to be was in the 1800s.

Examples of It’s Not All It’s Cracked Up to Be

cracked up to be courtney summersIn the example below, two friends use the idiom while driving a new car.

Ted: So you finally got your new car! What do you think of it?

Rufio: To be honest with you, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.

Ted: Are you serious?

Rufio: I wouldn’t joke about something like this! All I heard was how great this model was, and I just am not as impressed as I thought I would be.

Ted: Are you going to return the car?

Rufio: No. I’ll just keep it. Maybe I just have to get used to it.

cracked up to be summaryThis other dialogue involves a recent university graduate discussing her life now that she’s done with school.

Zayna: I can’t believe I graduated from college. I never have to go to school again!    

Ben: Do you feel happy and free?

Zayna: No, not at all. Being a college grad isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I feel lost, as if I don’t know what I’m going to do to make a living.

Ben: Uh oh. Well, maybe you should start applying to jobs.  

More Examples

The excerpt below shows the idiom being used to ask if it is worth the extra money and effort to have a second house.

  • Is owning a second home all it’s cracked up to be? That’s the question I cast to my experience-wizened readers. And their resounding answer? A definitive sometimes. –Denver Post

The second excerpt uses the idiom to explain that although both civilization and family have many benefits and are often great, they also sometimes can have major problems as well.

  • Tiny villages can work quite well for people at all stages of life, as neighbors check in from time to time and tend to notice quickly if something is awry. “Civilization” is a lot like “family”: not always all it’s cracked up to be. –Denver Post

Summary

It’s not all it’s cracked up to be is an expression that people use when they want to explain that something is disappointing when compared to the high praise it is usually given.