So It Goes: Definition, Meaning, and Origin

Last Updated on
July 20, 2023

The idiom "so it goes" is often used as a comment on the inevitability or commonplace nature of life events, particularly those that are negative or unfortunate. It implies an acceptance of circumstances as they are, a resignation to the way things happen, and is often used to express a philosophical or resigned attitude toward life's ups and downs.

In short:

"So it goes" is an expression of acceptance, often used in the face of life's inevitabilities and adversities.

What Does "So It Goes" Mean?

"So it goes" is a widely-used English idiom expressing acceptance or resignation, particularly toward life's unavoidable events or misfortunes. It often reflects a philosophical or somewhat detached attitude towards life's ups and downs, echoing the sentiment that things just happen the way they do, and there's not much one can do about it.

Let's delve into its core meanings and usage:

  • "So it goes" is often used to acknowledge the commonplace or expected nature of negative events, implying that such events are just a part of life and need to be accepted as they are.
  • It can be used when discussing or reflecting upon events that are out of one's control. For example, if a person is discussing a disappointment and their inability to change the situation, they might conclude with "so it goes" to express their acceptance of the circumstance.
  • Similar phrases to "so it goes" include "such is life," "that's how it is," and "that's the way the cookie crumbles."

Where Does "So It Goes" Come From?

The phrase "so it goes" has been used in various literary contexts throughout the years, but it is most famously associated with American author Kurt Vonnegut. He used the phrase repeatedly in his novel "Slaughterhouse-Five" (1969) as a refrain after every death, serving as a memento mori—a reminder of the inevitability of death and the need for acceptance of life's tragic aspects.

Historical Example

"When a Tralfamadorian sees a corpse, all he thinks is that the dead person is in a bad condition in that particular moment, but that the same person is just fine in plenty of other moments. Now, when I myself hear that somebody is dead, I simply shrug and say what the Tralfamadorians say about dead people, which is 'So it goes.'"

- Kurt Vonnegut, "Slaughterhouse-Five,"1969

10 Examples of "So It Goes" in Sentences

To better understand the idiom's usage, let's consider its use in a variety of contexts:

  • Despite the hiccup in our performance, the show must go on. So it goes.
  • They repoed his car because he couldn’t pay the loan. So it goes, he was living beyond his means.
  • I had planned for a sunny day, but it rained instead. So it goes.
  • Through all the trials and tribulations, we must persevere, so it goes.
  • We lost the match even after practicing for weeks. So it goes.
  • I tried to stay positive by reminding myself that it was mind over matter, so it goes.
  • The cake fell flat despite my following the recipe. So it goes in baking.
  • We may stumble, but we must move forward, so it goes.
  • My relationship ended, and I was left heartbroken. So it goes.
  • Off we go, so it goes - ready to start a new adventure or journey.

Examples of "So It Goes" in Pop Culture

The phrase "so it goes" appears frequently in popular culture, typically implying a sense of resignation or acceptance towards life's challenges or disappointments.

Let's take a look at some examples:

  • "So It Goes" is a song by Taylor Swift from her 2017 album, "Reputation." The lyrics reflect the ups and downs of a complicated relationship, with the phrase "so it goes" used to signify acceptance of the situation.
  • The American television series "Madam Secretary" includes an episode titled "So It Goes," emphasizing the phrase's meaning of acceptance in the face of political challenges.
  • Perry Como, an American singer, named his 1983 album "So It Goes," reflecting his music's relaxed and easy-listening style.
  • English rock band The Verve included a song titled "So It Goes" in their 1995 album "A Northern Soul," a reflection of the band's introspective and philosophical lyrics.
  • "So It Goes" is also the name of a 2018 film about the life and work of author Kurt Vonnegut. The film explores the impact of Vonnegut's work on American literature and culture, with the title paying homage to one of Vonnegut's most famous phrases.

Other/Different Ways to Say "So It Goes"

There are various other expressions that can be used to convey a similar meaning to "so it goes."

Here are some of them:

  • Such is life
  • That's life
  • That's the way the cookie crumbles
  • Life goes on
  • It is what it is
  • That's how the ball bounces
  • That's how it is
  • C'est la vie
  • That's the way it is
  • That's fate

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "So It Goes":

  • What does "so it goes" mean?

"So it goes" is an idiom expressing resignation or acceptance of a situation, often one that is disappointing or negative. It is equivalent to saying "that's just the way things are."

  • How can I use "so it goes" in a sentence?

You can use "so it goes" at the end of a sentence, to express a resigned acceptance of a situation. For example, "I'm in a fix right now, so it goes, but I'll figure it out soon."

  • Where does the idiom "so it goes" come from?

The idiom "so it goes" was popularized by the novel "Slaughterhouse-Five" by Kurt Vonnegut, where it is used as a refrain after every death.

  • Can you use "so it goes" in personal contexts?

Yes, "so it goes" can be used in personal contexts, to express acceptance or resignation towards personal events or circumstances.

  • Is "so it goes" a phrase expressing positivity?

No, "so it goes" is typically used to express a somewhat negative or neutral sentiment of resignation or acceptance towards a disappointing situation.

  • Does "so it goes" show a lack of concern?

Not necessarily. The phrase "so it goes" shows acceptance or resignation, but it doesn't necessarily mean the speaker is unconcerned. It can often indicate an acknowledgement of the harsh realities of life.

  • Can "so it goes" be considered a coping mechanism?

In a way, yes. Using the phrase "so it goes" can be seen as a coping mechanism, as it allows the speaker to acknowledge and accept disappointment or hardship as a part of life.

  • Is "so it goes" a universal concept?

While the phrase "so it goes" is English, the concept of accepting life's disappointments is a universal human experience, recognizable across different cultures and languages.

  • Does "so it goes" imply indifference?

While "so it goes" might sometimes seem to imply indifference, it more accurately expresses acceptance or resignation, rather than a lack of caring.

  • Is "so it goes" used often in literature?

While not overly common, the phrase "so it goes" has been used in various works of literature and is particularly associated with the work of Kurt Vonnegut.

Final Thoughts About "So It Goes"

The phrase "so it goes" expresses an acceptance of life's ups and downs, typically used to comment on negative or disappointing events. It suggests a philosophical outlook on life, recognizing that not all outcomes will be positive, and these are part of the human experience.

Here's a quick recap:

  • "So it goes" is a way to express resignation or acceptance of a situation.
  • It can be used in both personal and broader societal contexts.
  • The phrase does not necessarily express indifference or lack of care but rather a way of dealing with disappointment or hardship.

The use of "so it goes" can convey a nuanced understanding of life's complexities, acknowledging that negative outcomes are a part of life and often beyond our control. It encourages a balanced perspective on life, where acceptance plays a key role in navigating life's challenges.

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