What Does Like it or Lump it Mean?

Like it or Lump it Meaning

Definition: Accept it happily, or accept it unhappily. Either way you must accept it.  Put up with it.

Origin of Like it or Lump it

One of the definitions of lump is to tolerate an unpleasant situation. This use of the word dates back to the 1500s, but its precise source has been lost. Some claim that is comes from a British dialect word meaning to look sullen; others claim it is a nice way to say stuff it.

In any event, people use this expression when something cannot change, and everyone must deal with it. They don’t have a choice about this thing happening, but they can choose how to react to it. They can choose to look at it in a positive light, or they can glower and grump about it.

Regardless of their reaction, the outcome will remain the same.

Like it or lump it first appeared on the literary scene in the early-19th century. In 1833 John Neal used it in the Down-Easters.

Charles Dickens also used the phrase in Our Mutual Friend (1864):

  • If you don’t like it, it’s open to you to lump it.

Examples of Like it or Lump it

like it or lump it origin In the conversation below, two friends are discussing a break up that one of them just went through.

Scott: What’s wrong? You haven’t gotten out of bed all day?

Tony: I’m just feeling depressed about my recent breakup.

Scott: Listen, that was months ago. You’ve got to get over it. Like it or lump it, you and Lindsay are over. Forever!

Tony: Geeze. Okay. That’s a little harsh.

Scott: Sorry, but it’s true.

define like it of lump it Two coworkers use the expression while talking about their children.

Richard: Miranda, how do you remain steadfast after grounding your children? I grounded my two kids. I told them because they did something bad that they can’t watch any TV, use the Internet, or visit their friends. Anyway, they’ve been complaining so much that I want to end their grounding early.

Miranda: No, definitely don’t do that. If you give up now, they’ve won. They’ll know that if they complain enough about anything, you’ll eventually give in. Just tell them that like it or lump it, they’re grounded and they can’t make you change your mind. Don’t give in!

More Examples

The first example uses the expression to describe how a student with a disability let others in the classroom know he had this disability. He said that his disability was just something they would have to deal with, because he couldn’t change it.

  • And ten years before, in my first semester of teaching as casual, I’d had an experience where a student in a tutorial stood up and told other students, apropos of nothing, that he had high functioning autism and they could like it or lump it. –The Sydney Morning Herald

The second example is about a Scottish politician who has made a decision, and the other politicians will just have to deal with it.

  • “St Nicola shrugged. Yadda, yadda. Talk to the hand. Her game, her rules. Like it or lump it. If all of them were so sure no one would want another referendum after Brexit, why were they so reluctant to put it to the test? –Guardian


The saying like it or lump it is and English idiom that means choose your reaction because you can’t change the outcome.