What Does If You Can’t Take the Heat, Get Out of The Kitchen Mean

If you Can’t Take the Heat Meaning

Definition: Don’t do something if it is too difficult for you.  

This idiom is typically used in a situation where one person is complaining about a task. Another person will use this expression to tell the complainer to leave and let someone else do it who is more capable or willing.

Origin of If You Can’t Take the Heat

This idiom is often attributed to Harry S. Truman, who was the U.S. President from 1945 to 1953. Whether or not he was the first person to say it, he certainly popularized it.

Examples of If You Can’t Take the Heat

if you can t handle the heatIn the dialogue below, two friends are discussing a book they are writing.

Tina: Come on. Try to stay focused. We agreed that we’d write at least 10 more pages by tonight.

Keanu: Sorry, I think I’m done for now.

Tina: But, we have to keep working, or we won’t make our deadline.

Keanu: I’m just too tired.

Tina: Listen! If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen! I need a partner I can count on, and if I can’t rely on you, then let me find someone I can.

Keanu: Okay! Okay! You’re right. Let’s keep working on this.

if you don t like it you can get outIn this example, two friends discuss their master’s program.

Jonah: I don’t think I can do this anymore.

Tatiana: Do what?

Jonah: All these courses. It’s too much. Being an undergraduate was easy and fun. I thought this degree would be the same.

Tatiana: No, it’s a lot of hard work!

Jonah: I know. I don’t think I can do it.

Tatiana: Well, I guess if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

Jonah: Really? I thought you would try to convince me to stay.

Tatiana: Nope. Other people would love to take your place. If you’re just going to complain, let someone else do it.

More Examples

In this article excerpt, the idiom is used in a quote by a politician who is admonishing his colleagues to either do their job or to quit.

  • “It’s my job and all citizens’ job not just to vote but to come down here and be critical,” he said. “And if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen! You chose to be part of this machine!” Chicago Tribune

The second excerpt is written by someone who disagrees with the popular turn of phrase.

  • “When boomers entered the workplace, women had to put up with sexual harassment — and men from other men who created a towel-snapping, frat-boy culture,” she said. “But no longer do you have to ‘take the heat or get out of the kitchen.'” –Chicago Tribune


The phrase if you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen is an expression that is used to tell someone to either handle a situation or, if they can’t, let someone else do it who can.