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What Does "Bring It on" Mean?

Alex Tree
Updated May 23, 2024
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The saying "bring it on" is a lengthened version of “bring it,” basically meaning “I’m ready,” or that the speaker is confident in his or her ability to win a challenge. For example, when someone says, “I can score better on this test than you,” the challengee might say, “Bring it on!” in response. This slang idiom can be said in a playful manner or as an encouragement to violence. An infamous version of the phrase was said by former United States President George W. Bush in response to militants in Iraq attacking U.S troops. In popular culture there is a movie with the same name, featuring competitive cheerleaders who encourage their opponents to bring it.

There are several versions of "bring it on," including “bring it,” “bring them on,” and “bring your stuff.” Other variations of the saying are “show me what you’ve got,” “do your worst,” and “go for it.” They all essentially mean the same thing and can be used in a variety of informal situations. It is not always used as a friendly challenge; in fact, "bring it" is often followed by profanities or insults when said during conflicts. In general, it is not used in formal situations where people might simply say “I accept your challenge” or “I can do this” instead.

In 2003, George W. Bush encouraged militants in Iraq to attack U.S troops by saying “bring them on.” His speech was meant to convey that U.S troops are tough and could take whatever was thrown at them. Overall, his speech was meant to instill hope that Iraq would eventually be a free country run by Iraqis and that the United States would not withdraw until the job was done. The speech and especially the term “bring them on” was very controversial, however, because the U.S. troops were in a dangerous situation.

The movie Bring It On, also known as Cheers! in Japan, is sometimes credited as the origin of the saying, but it only served to further popularize it. Experts have failed to determine the exact origins of the phrase because it is an incredibly common slang term. Some people speculate that it started in the combat sport boxing. Boxers used to say “bring him on” to accept a challenge. It is also not known where in the world the phrase originates, even though it is commonly used in North America.

Language & Humanities is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Alex Tree
By Alex Tree
Andrew McDowell is a talented writer and Language & Humanities contributor. His unique perspective and ability to communicate complex ideas in an accessible manner make him a valuable asset to the team, as he crafts content that both informs and engages readers.

Discussion Comments

By shell4life — On Aug 10, 2011

“Bring it on” can be a dangerous thing to say to a person with a bad temper. My friend who is the boss at his office found that out the hard way.

He had an employee with anger issues who frequently complained about everyone else’s work habits. My friend always tried to remain calm with him, but he was becoming increasingly agitated.

One day, the angry man told his boss that he would mess him up if he didn’t do something about his lazy coworkers. He got up in my friend’s face and threatened bodily harm. My friend can’t stand anyone in his personal space, so in anger, he shouted, “Bring it on!”

The man had a knife in his back pocket, and he tried to stab my friend. He grabbed his hand before he could delve the knife into his chest, and they struggled. My friend ended up with badly cut arms, but he managed to wrestle the man to the ground and call for help.

By Oceana — On Aug 10, 2011

When training my puppy, I used the command “bring it on” to let her know it was time to play-fight. She only weighed twenty-five pounds at the time, so she was completely safe to wrestle with.

It cracked me up to watch her response to the term. I would back away from her about five feet and say, “Daisy, bring it on!” Then, she would wrinkle up her nose and show her teeth. She didn’t growl. This was just her playful face. Next, she would run toward me at top speed and jump upon my chest.

I would fall to the ground and roll her over. Then, I would pull lightly on her legs as she bit at my hands. We had a great time.

By seag47 — On Aug 09, 2011

In a strange way, “bring it on” helped me stop a bully. As a kid, I was scrawny and got picked on a lot. One day, I reached my limit. A big kid was following me around, thumping me in the back of my head constantly. My anger level slowly rose, until I slammed my backpack down on the floor and said, “Is that all you got? Bring it on!”

Taken aback, the kid gasped and then broke into laughter. I started swinging at the air in a crazy rage. I did a boxing dance back and forth. My anger only served to tickle him. He bent over in a giggle fit.

The bell rang and interrupted us, so I just took my backpack and went to class. Every time after that, when the kid saw me, he just grinned and chuckled.

By lighth0se33 — On Aug 08, 2011

I am careful with using the phrase “bring it on.” I used it in anger once, and I regretted saying it.

Frustrated by a recent breakup and a missed job opportunity, I told God sarcastically, “Could you let anything else go wrong in my life? Bring it on!” At the time, I was so upset that I felt I would be numb to anything else that happened.

Later that day, my car broke down on the side of the road. While I waited for help to arrive, I got rear-ended, and the damage to my car ran into the thousands. When I got home and checked the mail, I found some large bills I had forgotten that I owed. So, I no longer say, “Bring it on!”

By Saraq90 — On Aug 08, 2011

I would have to agree with the other posts I would say "bring it on" when I was younger in the heat of a sporting event or something of that matter. But now I use it around teenagers because they just think it is funny to hear an adult use the term!

Plus does it not seem like whenever you start trash talking by saying things like "bring it on" that is when you start losing! Or maybe that was just my luck...

By geekish — On Aug 07, 2011

I have to say, it always annoys me when people say "bring it on." It just sounds so machismo and aggressive. It could be just my pet peeve, but honestly, what's wrong with other, less aggressive phrases? Let's return to a slightly more elegant era of phrasing people!

By amysamp — On Aug 07, 2011

I had seen Bring it On on dvd, and I remember not feeling as though that was the first time I had heard the saying. So I would definitely agree that the saying was not from the movie.

What I did not realize that Bring It On was a series of movies! Did you know there was more than one, I did not until one of my friend's daughters brought it to my attention.

I would never have thought from seeing the original Bring It On movie (or Cheers! as it was called in Japan) would have been popular enough to be a series.

By wander — On Aug 06, 2011

"Bring it on" seems to be one of those phrases that has taken on a life of its own. I have heard this expression in a lot in cartoons and action movies. It really seems like the thing to say before a fighter leaps into a battle.

Nowadays I have noticed a lot of news agencies using the expression 'bring it on' to welcome things like heat waves and big crowds for an event. I guess the expression is catchy and well known enough to fit well into headlines, but I still don't think this idiom has a place in news reporting. I suppose the more 'bring it on' becomes ingrained in our culture the more we'll see the expression used.

By lonelygod — On Aug 04, 2011

I always felt that using an expression "bring it on" was a bit childish. It always seemed like something you would expect a teenager to shout or a kid would yell before taking on an opposing team.

I can completely understand why people were upset with George W. Bush using a similar expression to bolster the troops. While I am sure he felt that using an idiom put him more in touch with the people, I can certainly see why people would argue that he wasn't taking the situation as seriously as he should have. With the lives of so many soldiers at risk and such a big mission ahead of everyone, I think that a bit more decorum was called for.

By whiteplane — On Aug 04, 2011

I love the movie "Bring it On." I have probably watched it 20 times in my life and I love all the sequels too. Those girls are just so tough and they never stop striving for their dream. Its a very inspirational story and I always get a little teary when I watch it.

I think that the girls in that movie really encapsulate the spirit of the phrase "bring it on" -- they work so hard and have such a strong attitude, it's really inspiring!

By tigers88 — On Aug 03, 2011

I've always thought that "Bring it on" was one of the coolest and toughest things you could say to someone. When I was a kid I was a big fan of this one Batman cartoon and there was a scene where Batman says that famous phrase to a room of about 20 bad guys. Of course he then proceeds to beat them all up and emerges unscathed. I think ever since I saw that I've thought it was a cool phrase and tried to work it into my vernacular as much as possible.

By ddljohn — On Aug 03, 2011

I say "bring it on" if I have been challenged to do something and I feel very confident about winning. When I was younger, I used to say it sometimes even if I wasn't confident about what I was doing because I was so upset and angry with the person that was challenging me.

I think it's good to be challenged if you have confidence because it encourages you to do your best. But sometimes these challenges are more about ridiculing someone and trying to look superior. Then, we might say "bring it on" even if we don't really want to compete with that person or team.

So I guess this term is both good and bad, depending on the person you are competing with and what the challenge is about.

Now that I'm older, I don't fall for these kind of games as easily. If it's a fair game and there is friendly attitude, I'm in it. But if it is about a show of ego or wanting to ridicule someone else, then I'd rather not say "bring it on!"

Alex Tree

Alex Tree

Andrew McDowell is a talented writer and Language & Humanities contributor. His unique perspective and ability to communicate complex ideas in an accessible manner make him a valuable asset to the team, as he crafts content that both informs and engages readers.
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