Simple, easy; something that lacks complexity and is not difficult to do or understand.
Example: Freddie needed his oil changed in his car, but he did not know how to do it himself. “Don’t worry, I’ll show you how; it’s not rocket science,” his friend told him.
Note: The word “exactly” is oftentimes inserted into this common phrase (i.e., Installing a ceiling fan is not exactly rocket science).
The Origin Of – It’s Not Rocket Science
Have you ever heard of this term before? Perhaps you’ve been in a situation before where, while in the middle of assembling something, someone you know comes up to you and says that what you’re doing ‘isn’t exactly rocket science,’ or they might use a similar expression and say ‘it’s not brain surgery.’ And then it’s like, well of course it’s not, I’m putting together an office chair! So why do people use phrases like these?
Some activities are more complex and difficult than others. For example, designing and constructing rocket ships that fly into space sounds way more intricate than, you know, doing a bit of yard work. Hence, these more complex activities are being used as a comparison. Basically, when someone uses this phrase, they are implying that what you are doing is simple in comparison to “rocket science.” And while that may be, listen, putting things together can still be tough work, even if it is something simple like an office chair.
Anyways, as for the origins of this idiom, it looks like it originated quite recently, as the earliest I could find it in print is from the the year 1990 onward. For example, the expression is written in a book called Jane Brody’s Good Food Gourmet: Recipes and Menus for Delicious and Healthful Entertaining, published in 1990.
So this idiom is quite young, indeed.
- This sprinkler system I had installed in my front yard, while it’s not exactly rocket science, I’m still having trouble understanding how to make it work properly.