Facts Of Life

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Meaning of Idiom 'Facts of Life'

1. A euphemism for the facts about human sexual reproduction, similar to the 'birds and the bees.' 1,2

2. Unpleasant truths about the way the world works which cannot be changed and which people must learn to accept. 1


The first meaning is often a delicate way parents use to approach a discussion about sex with their children.

The second use is sometimes used does not refer to any specific "truths" about the world but is used in a general sense. However, the idiom is sometimes used in the singular as 'a fact of life' to refer to one such truth. 3


"The parent's association is meeting to discuss whether the facts of life should be taught in school."

"Mikey," said Dad, "I think it's time we sat down and talked about the facts of life."

"I think it will do Miranda good to be on her on for a while. She has a lot to learn about the facts of life."

"I learned about the facts of life at an early age. I was a foster child."


Used since the mid-1800's.

1. Spears, Richard A. McGraw-Hill's American Idioms Dictionary. Boston: McGraw Hill, 2008.
2. Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.
3. Ayto, John. Oxford Dictionary of English Idioms. Oxford: Oxford U, 2010.

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