Tell me about it


What's the meaning of the phrase 'Tell me about it'?

‘Tell me about it’ is a lighthearted, rueful response used when someone wants to say “I’m well aware of that; you don’t have to tell me.”.

What's the origin of the phrase 'Tell me about it'?

The expression sounds typical of those that come from the New York Jewish community but, despite my best efforts, I can’t corroborate that’s where it came from. It certainly is 20th century American in origin.

The first example that I’ve found of it in print is in Judith Guest’s novel Ordinary People, 1976, although this citation is probably a repeating of existing slang:

‘It helps,’ Lazenby drawls, ‘if you read the crap when it’s assigned… Just a friendly hint.’ ‘Tell me about it,’ Van Buren says.

There’s not a good deal else to say about this little phrase. Perhaps an earlier example, and one that points to the origin, may emerge in time.

See other Nautical Phrases.

Trend of tell me about it in printed material over time

Gary Martin is a writer and researcher on the origins of phrases and the creator of the Phrase Finder website. Over the past 26 years more than 700 million of his pages have been downloaded by readers. He is one of the most popular and trusted sources of information on phrases and idioms.

Gary Martin

Writer and researcher on the origins of phrases and the creator of the Phrase Finder website. Over the past 26 years more than 700 million of his pages have been downloaded by readers. He is one of the most popular and trusted sources of information on phrases and idioms.