I'll Believe It When I See It: Definition, Meaning, and Origin

Last Updated on
October 5, 2023

"I'll believe it when I see it" is a common idiom that expresses doubt or skepticism about something. It means that the speaker does not trust or accept what someone else says or promises, and they need to see proof or evidence before they believe it.

In short:

  • It is an idiom that shows doubt or disbelief.
  • It can be used to respond to someone who says or promises something that seems unlikely or unrealistic.

What Does "I'll Believe It When I See It" Mean?

This idiom is another way of saying that the speaker is doubtful or skeptical about something, and they require proof or evidence before they believe it.

Where Does "I'll Believe It When I See It" Come From?

The origin of this idiom is unclear, but some sources suggest that a biblical story may have influenced it. The story is about Jesus' disciple Thomas, who did not believe that Jesus had risen from the dead until he saw and touched his wounds. The phrase "I'll believe it when I see it" may have derived from this story to emphasize doubt or disbelief.

10 Examples of "I'll Believe It When I See It" in Sentences

Here are some examples of how to use this idiom in different sentences:

  • She said she met a celebrity at the mall. I'll believe it when I see it.
  • She said she saw a UFO last night. I'll believe it when I see it.
  • They claim they have found the cure for cancer. I'll believe it when I see it.
  • He said he would quit smoking for goodno mean feat. I'll believe it when I see it.
  • They announced that they are getting married next month. I'll believe it when I see it.
  • No diggity. She claims she can speak six languages fluently. I'll believe it when I see it.
  • About last night, he promised to pay me back by next week. I'll believe it when I see it.
  • Beats me. He told me he won a trip to Hawaii in a contest. But I'll believe it when I see it.
  • She told me during our evening out that she got a job promotion. I'll believe it when I see it.
  • They say they are going to launch a new product soon. What can I say? I'll believe it when I see it.

Examples of "I'll Believe It When I See It" in Pop Culture

Here are some examples of how this idiom has been used in various forms of pop culture:

  • In The Matrix (1999), Morpheus tells Neo, "You have to let it all go. Fear, doubt, and disbelief. Free your mind." Neo replies, "Right, no problem. Free my mind. No problem." Morpheus says, "Trust me, Neo." Neo says sarcastically, "Yeah, sure. I'll close my eyes and jump." Morpheus says, "Yes." Neo says, "I'll believe it when I see it."
  • In Friends' TV show, Rachel tells Ross she is pregnant with his baby. Ross is shocked and says: "What? Are you sure?" Rachel says: "Yeah, I'm sure." Ross says: "How? When?" Rachel says: "You know when." Ross says: "I'll believe it when I see it."
  • Harry tells Hermione and Ron that he saw his father's ghost in the graveyard in the Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix book. Hermione says: "Harry, your dad is… dead. You know that, right?" Harry says: "I know, but I saw him. He was there." Ron says: "Maybe it was a trick of the light, hallucination, or something." Harry says: "It wasn't. He was real. He helped me escape from Voldemort." Hermione says: "Harry, I'm sorry, but I'll believe it when I see it."

Other Ways to Say "I'll Believe It When I See It"

There are some different ways to express the same idea as this idiom, such as:

  • That's a big if.
  • Prove it to me.
  • Seeing is believing.
  • I'll buy it when I see it.
  • That's a tall tale/story.
  • I'll trust that when I see it.
  • Show me the proof/evidence.
  • That's hard to swallow/believe.

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "I'll Believe It When I See It"

Here are some common questions and answers about this idiom:

  • What does "I'll believe it when I see it" mean?

"I'll believe it when I see it" is a common idiom that expresses doubt or skepticism about something. It means that the speaker does not trust or accept what someone else says or promises, and they need to see proof or evidence before they believe it.

  • What is the origin of the phrase "I'll believe it when I see it"?

The origin of this idiom is unclear, but some sources suggest that a biblical story may have influenced it. The story is about Jesus' disciple Thomas, who did not believe that Jesus had risen from the dead until he saw and touched his wounds.

  • Is "I'll believe it when I see it" rude or polite?

This idiom can be considered rude or polite depending on the tone of voice, the context, and the relationship between the speaker and the listener. It can be harsh if said sarcastically, mockingly, or dismissively. It can be polite if it is displayed in a joking, playful, or curious way.

  • How can I respond to someone who says, "I'll believe it when I see it"?

Depending on your intention and attitude, there are different ways to respond to someone who says this idiom. You can try to convince them by providing more details, facts, or examples. You can challenge them by asking them what they need to see to believe. You can agree with them by admitting that it is hard to think or you are unsure. You can ignore them by changing the subject or ending the conversation. You can also use humor by making a joke or a witty remark.

  • What is the difference between "I'll believe it when I see it" and "I'll see it when I believe it"?

The difference between these two phrases is that the first implies that seeing is a condition for believing, while the second means that feeling is a condition for seeing. The first expresses doubt or disbelief, while the second expresses faith or optimism.

  • What is the opposite of "I'll believe it when I see it"?

The opposite of this idiom is "I'll see it when I believe it." This means that the speaker needs to believe something before they can see it. It expresses faith or optimism rather than doubt or disbelief.

  • How can I use "I'll believe it when I see it" in a positive way?

You can use this idiom positively to show that you are impressed, surprised, or excited by something someone else says or promises. You can also add some words or expressions that indicate your positive tone.

  • How can I use "I'll believe it when I see it" in a negative way?

You can use this idiom negatively to show that you are skeptical, distrustful, or cynical about something someone else says or promises. You can also add some words or expressions that indicate your negative tone.

  • How can I use "I'll believe it when I see it" in a neutral way?

You can neutrally use this idiom to show that you are curious, interested, or cautious about something someone else says or promises. You can also add some words or expressions that indicate your neutral tone.

  • What are some situations where people use "I'll believe it when I see it"?

Some situations where people use this idiom are when someone makes a promise or a commitment that seems unlikely or unrealistic. In addition, when someone claims to have done something extraordinary or impressive that seems doubtful or unbelievable. Also, when someone predicts or forecasts something that seems improbable or impossible.

Final Thoughts About "I'll Believe It When I See It"

"I'll believe it when I see it" is a common idiom in English that expresses doubt or disbelief about something. It means that the speaker needs to see proof or evidence before they believe something. It can be a response to someone who says or promises something that seems unlikely or unrealistic.

Some of the basic information about this idiom are:

  • A biblical story about Thomas, a disciple of Jesus, may have influenced it.
  • It is related to the expression "seeing is believing," which means that one can only be sure of something by seeing it for oneself.
  • It can be considered rude or polite depending on the tone of voice, the context, and the relationship between the speaker and the listener.
  • It has synonyms and antonyms that can be used in different situations and contexts.

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