It’s Not Rocket Science

Meaning:

Simple, easy; something that lacks complexity and is not difficult to do or understand.

Example: Freddie’s car needed an oil change, but he had no idea how to do it himself. “Don’t worry, I’ll show you how it’s done; it’s not rocket science,” his friend told him.

Note: The word “exactly” is sometimes inserted into this phrase (e.g., Installing a ceiling fan is not exactly rocket science).

Synonyms: a piece of cake, a walk in the park, as easy as pie, it’s not brain surgery

The idiom it's not exactly rocket science.

The Origin Of – It’s Not Rocket Science

You’ve probably heard of this phrase before. Perhaps while working on something, someone you know came over and told you that what you’re working on “isn’t exactly rocket science,” or they used the very similar expression “it’s not brain surgery.” Where did these phrases come from?

They likely derive from the idea that certain job professions are harder to do than others. For example, designing rocket ships that can fly into space (‚Ķrocket scientist?) or performing surgery on a human brain (brain surgeon), these jobs are far more complicated than, say, making a sandwich at Subway. Hence, the more complex jobs are being used as a comparison. The person using one of these phrases is suggesting that what you are doing is simple in comparison to “rocket science” or “brain surgery.”

So now that we’ve talked about the idea behind the phrase, let’s go over how old these two sayings are. It looks like the phrase “it’s not brain surgery” came before the “rocket science” version because the former appears as early as 1971, in the newspaper Ames Daily Tribute:

“‘After all,’ he added, ‘it’s not like brain surgery.'”

On the other hand, the latter (the “rocket science” version) dates back only to 1990 from what I can find. For example, it appears in a book called Jane Brody’s Good Food Gourmet: Recipes and Menus for Delicious and Healthful Entertaining, published in 1990.


Example Sentences

  • This sprinkler system and how it works, it’s not exactly rocket science, but I’m still having trouble with some of its features.

Similar Examples:

  • Beating the final boss in this game was a walk in the park.
  • Learning how to ride a bike is a piece of cake, you’ll get the hang of it in no time.

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