Done and Dusted: Definition, Meaning, and Origin

Last Updated on
July 14, 2023

The idiom "done and dusted" emphasizes the finality and completion of a task or situation. It signifies that all necessary actions have been taken and there is nothing more to be done. 

In short:

"Done and dusted" means that something is completed or finished, leaving no room for further action or discussion.

What Does "Done and Dusted" Mean?

The idiom "done and dusted" implies that something has been finished successfully, and there is nothing more to be done. Some of the common variations of this idiom are job done, In the bag, Wrapped up. "Done and dusted" is an idiomatic expression that originated in Britain and is commonly used in American English as well. It often indicates completing or finalizing a task, event, or situation.

  • The phrase emphasizes the idea of thoroughness and completeness in finishing a task or achieving a goal.
  • It implies that all necessary steps have been taken, all details have been attended to, and there is no need for further action or concern.
  • "Done and dusted" can also convey a sense of satisfaction or relief upon successfully completing a challenging endeavor.
  • It can be used in both professional and informal contexts to denote the successful conclusion of various activities such as projects, negotiations, exams, competitions, or even everyday tasks.

Where Does "Done and Dusted" Come From?

The idiom "done and dusted" is a commonly used phrase in English, especially in British English. It is believed to have originated in the early 20th century, but its exact origin is uncertain. One theory suggests that the phrase may have originated from the practice of cleaning or polishing furniture. After completing a task, people would often apply a layer of dusting powder or polish to give it a finished appearance.

Thus, when something was "done and dusted," it meant that it was completed and given a final touch. Another possible origin could be from the world of housework. In earlier times, cleaning involved beating rugs outdoors to remove dust and dirt. Once the rug was thoroughly beaten and cleaned, it was considered "done and dusted."

Historical Example

"Hollywood has done its best…and tonight we shall see their work done and dusted."

-Radio Reflections, The New York Times on August 3rd,1934

"It's time I had enough money behind me to feel safe… Then I could give up everything without any qualms of conscience…everything would be done and dusted."

-My Culture, The Observer on April 10th, 1966

10 Examples of "Done and Dusted" in Sentences

Here are some examples of how "done and dusted" might be used in various sentences:

  • The project is done and dusted, and neither do I have any interest in revisiting it?
  • The negotiations were complex, but now everything is done and dusted.
  • With the house move done and dusted, we can now relax and enjoy our new home.
  • The project was a breeze; it was done and dusted in no time; it truly felt like a fly by.
  • I am glad the exams are done and dusted, and I can now focus on my vacation.
  • Now that the wedding preparations are done and dusted, we can sit back and await the big day.
  • The negotiations for the contract were intense, but once we agreed on a set price, it was done and dusted.
  • Once the court case was done and dusted, he could finally move on with his life.
  • The meeting was done and dusted within an hour, much quicker than we expected.
  • I just finished cleaning the entire house, so now it's done and dusted, and I feel like lighting up a dooby to celebrate.

Examples of "Done and Dusted" in Pop Culture

The phrase "done and dusted" has been used in various pop culture contexts:

  • In the movie The Hitman's Bodyguard, one character says, "All contracts are done and dusted."
  • The band Stereophonics has a song titled "Done and Dusted."
  • The phrase is used in the TV series Doctor Who, episode "The Woman Who Lived."
  • In the novel "Hard Eight" by Janet Evanovich, the character says, "Consider it done and dusted."
  • The phrase was used in an episode of the TV series Black Mirror.
  • British TV presenter Vernon Kay hosts a radio show named "Done and Dusted."
  • Actor Ewan McGregor uses the phrase in the film Trainspotting.
  • In the TV show Peaky Blinders, the phrase is used in several episodes.

Other Ways to Say "Done and Dusted"

There are several alternative expressions that convey a similar meaning to "done and dusted."

Some of these include:

  • The deal is signed, sealed, and delivered.
  • Thanks heap. The task is now complete.
  • The job is finished.
  • The work is wrapped up.
  • We have put the issue to bed.
  • The contract is sealed with a fatal attraction.
  • We have settled the matter.
  • The project is over and done with.
  • The issue is essentially cut from the same cloth.
  • The assignment is accomplished.

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "Done and Dusted"

  • What does "done and dusted" mean?

It means a task or situation is completely finished with no loose ends or room for doubt.

  • Where did the idiom originate?

The idiom is believed to be of British origin, possibly related to the old practice of dusting freshly inked documents.

  • Can I use "done and dusted" in formal writing?

While it is not inappropriate, using idioms in formal writing is generally avoided. It's best to use more direct terms like "completed" or "finished."

  • Does "done and dusted" imply a positive outcome?

Not necessarily. It simply suggests that something is finished. The outcome could be positive, negative, or neutral.

  • Can the phrase be used to refer to future events?

Typically, "done and dusted" is used for events or tasks that are already completed.

  • Are there other idioms with the same meaning?

Yes, idioms like "wrapped up", "over and done with", and "signed, sealed, and delivered" convey a similar meaning.

  • Is the phrase "done and dusted" used in other languages?

While the exact phrase may not be used, many languages have similar idioms that express the concept of finality and thorough completion.

  • Is "done and dusted" a cliché?

While it's a common idiom, whether it's a cliché depends on its usage. If overused in a particular context, it could become clichéd.

  • What is the antonym of "done and dusted"?

Phrases like "in the works", "in progress", or "underway" could be considered antonyms as they indicate something is not yet completed.

  • Can "done and dusted" be used in a negative context?

Yes, it can be used in a negative context if the completed action or event has an unfavorable outcome or implication.

Final Thoughts About "Done and Dusted"

“Done and dusted” is an idiom commonly used in everyday language. It carries a specific meaning that signifies the completion or finalization of a task or event. Overall, this idiomatic phrase serves as a concise and expressive way to indicate the successful completion of something.

Key aspects of the phrase "done and dusted":

  • The idiom conveys the idea that something has been finished, completed, or resolved.
  • It implies that all necessary actions or steps have been taken, and there is nothing more to be done.
  • It suggests a sense of satisfaction or accomplishment upon reaching the endpoint.
  • The phrase can be used in various contexts, such as work projects, personal tasks, or social events.

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