What Does It’s Not Rocket Science Mean?

It’s Not Rocket Science Meaning

Definition: It’s not too difficult.

This phrase is also commonly said as this is not rocket science.

Origin of It’s Not Rocket Science

This expression is a euphemism for This is an easy thing to understand. The idea behind the expression is that rocket science is a very complicated field, and one must be very smart in order to understand it.

A person often says this when someone else is struggling to understand something that the first person thinks should be simple. It has the connotation of Why is this so hard for you? so it is not appropriate to say in a formal or academic setting.

This expression became popular in the 1980s. However, a similar expression, it’s not brain surgery, predates it by about 20 years. Both the field of rocket science and brain surgery are notorious for being complicated.

It is possible that people chose these two fields because they both explore relatively unknown areas (space and the human brain) and require very minute attention to detail.

A jocular version of these two phrases is it’s not rocket surgery, which combines the two phrases as a joke.


it is not rocket science meaning The first dialogue shows a brother and sister who are trying to assemble a crib for a friend and her baby.

Luke: Ella, hurry up! I thought you said you had put together a crib before.

Ella: I know. I did, but I can’t remember how I did it. This would go faster if you would just help me.

Luke: I wish I could, but both of my hands are injured. Anyway, this is a simple thing. It’s not rocket science!

Ella: You don’t have to be rude. It’s easy to make fun of me for not finding this easy when you aren’t trying at all.

define this is not rocket science The second example shows two friends whispering while at their club meeting.

Ray: I can’t understand why these people are still arguing about their plan for this fundraiser.

Ricardo: I know. It does seem pretty silly.

Ray: It shouldn’t be that hard. I mean, this is a fundraiser. It’s not rocket science!

More Examples

This excerpt is from an article about voter fraud. A man lied about where he lived in order to vote in a different district. The lawyer opposing him says that the judge will have a simple decision, since the man lied about something so obvious.

  • Page, the attorney for the road district, scoffs at that idea: “It’s not rocket science. It’s the home where you intend to reside indefinitely. It’s not a state of mind.” –Houston Chronicle

This excerpt is from a news article that explains, and gives examples for, writing the college application essay that high-school graduates must do to get into university.

The example below is part of their sample essay about science and religion. The essay is about two students at a science camp, one who is religious, and one who is not. When they finally begin to understand each other, one of them jokes that understanding a person’s religion should be easier than studying rocket science, which is the purpose of their camp.

  • “Come on, Sam,” I said, somewhere along the way, “It’s not rocket science!” My new friend smiled at me, and I smiled back, realizing that we had both moved a little further down the path toward understanding not just the cosmos, but each other. –Denver Post


The saying it’s not rocket science is another way to say this should be simple to understand.