Keep On Keeping On: Definition, Meaning, and Origin

Last Updated on
July 22, 2023

The idiom "keep on keeping on" means to continue to persist or persevere, especially in challenging situations. It signifies the determination to carry on with your tasks or efforts, even when circumstances are tough. This phrase encourages a spirit of tenacity, suggesting that one should not give up easily but should stay the course, striving to overcome any obstacles or challenges that might come their way.

In short:

  • "Keep on keeping on" means to continue doing something, especially in difficult situations.
  • It promotes a sense of determination and perseverance, even in the face of adversity.

What Does "Keep On Keeping On" Mean?

"Keep on keeping on" is an idiomatic expression that means to persevere or continue doing something despite difficulties or challenges. The phrase is often used to inspire and motivate people to keep working towards their goals, even when faced with obstacles or setbacks.

Let's delve deeper into its meanings and usage:

  • "Keep on keeping on" is a phrase that encourages individuals to persist, to keep moving forward despite challenges or setbacks. It implies resilience and the will to overcome obstacles.
  • Typically, this phrase is used to motivate oneself or others to stay focused on a task or goal, especially when the going gets tough. It's a rallying cry that signals grit, tenacity, and the resolve not to quit.
  • You might use "keep on keeping on" when discussing the need for continued effort or determination. For instance, if someone is struggling with their workout routine, they could say they will "keep on keeping on" to signify that they will continue to persist, despite the struggle.
  • Phrases that share a similar sentiment include "keep pushing forward," "stick to your guns," "stay the course," and "don't quit."

Where Does "Keep On Keeping On" Come From?

The exact origin of the phrase "keep on keeping on" is not clear, but it has been used in various contexts throughout history. Some sources suggest that the phrase originated just before World War I. It was frequently and widely used in the African American community. The phrase gained more popularity when it was used in a speech by Martin Luther King Jr. in 1964. Additionally, it appeared in a Bob Dylan song, "Tangled Up in Blue," which was recorded in December 1974.

Historical Examples

"I like the magazine all the more because of the fine snatches of poetry which abound in it. They make on keep on keeping on whether one will or not. I don't mind admitting that some of them in the current issue have been of material help to me."

- A letter sent to The Gregg Shorthand Magazine, 1916

"You don't get to the Promised Land without going through the Wilderness. You don't get there without crossing over hills and mountains, but if you keep on keeping on, you can't help but reach it. We won't all see it, but it's coming and it's because God is for it..."

- Excerpt from M.L. King Jr.'s speech, reported by A. Holden, Fisk University, March 1956

10 Examples of "Keep On Keeping On" in Sentences

To help you understand the usage of this phrase, here are a few examples of "keep on keeping on" in various situations:

  • Despite the constant challenges, she decided to keep on keeping on with her entrepreneurial journey.
  • Even though it seemed like the grass was always greener on the other side, Lisa knew she had to keep on keeping on and appreciate what she had.
  • Life can be tough, but you must keep on keeping on to achieve your dreams.
  • He was tired of the daily grind, but he knew he had to keep on keeping on to support his family.
  • When the training got intense, their coach would often encourage them to keep on keeping on.
  • Despite the peaks and troughs of his financial situation, Robert knew he had to keep on keeping on to ensure a stable future.
  • Remember, no matter how hard life gets, always keep on keeping on.
  • The key to success is to keep on keeping on, regardless of the obstacles you encounter.
  • None but the brave deserve the fair, so despite the odds, let's keep on keeping on.
  • After several failed attempts, he chose to keep on keeping on and eventually saw success.

Examples of "Keep On Keeping On" in Pop Culture

The phrase "keep on keeping on" frequently appears in pop culture, often illustrating the theme of resilience and tenacity.

Let's delve into some of these instances:

  • "Keep On Keeping On" is a 2014 documentary directed by Al Hicks. It tells the story of jazz legend Clark Terry, highlighting his resilient spirit in the face of health challenges.
  • The phrase "Keep On Keeping On" appears on a T-shirt worn by Earn Marks, a character played by Donald Glover, in the TV show "Atlanta" (Season 1, Episode 3).
  • "Keep On Keeping On" is a self-help book by authors Jean Davis and Ed Robertson.
  • "Keep On Keeping On" is also the title of the first book in The KOKO Series by Debra Dickinson.
  • The University of Virginia Press published a book titled "Keep On Keeping On" that offers a comprehensive view of African Americans' efforts to obtain racial equality in Virginia.
  • "Keep On Keeping On" is a series of articles on the Harvard CAMHS website about managing anxiety and procrastination.

Other/Different Ways to Say "Keep On Keeping On"

There are several other expressions that can convey a similar sentiment as "keep on keeping on."

Here are a few:

  • Continue pushing forward
  • Stay the course
  • Keep at it
  • Don't give up
  • Keep moving forward
  • Stick with it
  • Persist
  • Carry on regardless
  • Keep your nose to the grindstone
  • Press on

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "Keep On Keeping On":

  • What does "keep on keeping on" mean?

"Keep on keeping on" is an idiom that means to continue doing something, especially when it is difficult or tedious. It signifies perseverance and determination.

  • How can I use "keep on keeping on" in a sentence?

You can use "keep on keeping on" to encourage perseverance. For example, "For the love of Pete, don't give up just yet, we've got to keep on keeping on."

  • Where does the phrase "keep on keeping on" come from?

This phrase originated from African American Vernacular English in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It was popularized in the 1960s and 1970s through songs and speeches emphasizing resilience and determination.

  • Can you use "keep on keeping on" in personal contexts?

Yes, "keep on keeping on" can be used in personal, professional, or motivational contexts. It's often used to encourage perseverance in the face of adversity.

  • Can "keep on keeping on" be used to encourage someone?

Yes, "keep on keeping on" is frequently used as a motivational phrase to encourage someone to persist in the face of difficulty or discouragement.

  • Is "keep on keeping on" used in modern English?

While it's a bit old-fashioned, "keep on keeping on" is still used today, especially in motivational and inspirational contexts.

  • Can "keep on keeping on" refer to enduring difficult situations?

Yes, "keep on keeping on" often implies persevering through difficult or challenging circumstances.

  • What's the significance of "keep on keeping on" in pop culture?

"Keep on keeping on" has been used in numerous songs, movies, and books, often highlighting themes of resilience, tenacity, and perseverance.

  • Can "keep on keeping on" be considered a mantra?

Yes, for many people, "keep on keeping on" can be considered a mantra or guiding principle for resilience and determination in the face of adversity.

  • Is "keep on keeping on" a universal concept?

While the phrase is English, the concept of persevering and persisting, especially during difficult times, is a universal human experience and is recognizable across different cultures and languages.

Final Thoughts About "Keep On Keeping On"

"Keep on keeping on" is an idiom that encapsulates a potent human spirit – the resolve to persevere, no matter what. It's about persistence, resilience, and the unwavering will to continue, even when the going gets tough. This phrase is a testament to our capacity to endure hardships and emerge stronger.

Here's a quick recap:

  • "Keep on keeping on" is about perseverance and resilience, encouraging us to keep moving forward despite adversity.
  • It is often used in situations of difficulty or challenge and can serve as a rallying cry for continued effort and determination.
  • The phrase reminds us that persistence often leads to success and that we should not give up easily when faced with obstacles.

In the face of life's many challenges, the ability to "keep on keeping on" can make a significant difference. It's a call to remain determined, resilient, and optimistic, even when things seem bleak. So, no matter what life throws your way, remember to "keep on keeping on."

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