What Is “Such Is Life”? Definition & 20+ Examples

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where everything seemed to be going wrong, and all you could do was shake your head and mutter, “Such is life”?

In its most basic form, this phrase refers to the unpredictable nature of life and the inevitability of both positive and negative experiences. The expression is commonly used to console oneself or others when facing a disappointing or challenging situation.

Whether it’s losing a job, breaking up with a partner, or facing a health issue, the phrase such is life” captures a sense of resignation, acceptance, and perhaps even a hint of fatalism.

But have you ever stopped to consider the deeper meaning behind these three simple words?

In this article, we’ll dive deep into the definition and examples of such is life,” exploring its historical and cultural background and how it can be used as a tool for resilience and coping with life’s challenges.

Definition of “Such Is Life”

“Such is life, a literary device often heard in conversation, holds a variety of meanings and interpretations. It’s a phrase generally used to express acceptance or resignation toward an event or situation that is considered typical or unavoidable.

The saying implies that certain situations, whether positive or negative, are inherent aspects of life and should be accepted as such. In literature, the term has been used by various authors, often highlighting the various aspects of human existence, from the mundane to the extraordinary.

People use the expression such is life” in various contexts, including:

  • Accepting the outcome of a situation they cannot change.
  • Recognizing the unpredictability of life and the need for adaptability.
  • Conveying a sense of humility or humbleness in response to success.
  • Relating to others who are also experiencing similar challenges or setbacks.

Although the phrase’s literal meaning is quite simple, its underlying message serves as a reminder of the shared human experience and encourages resilience in the face of life’s trials and tribulations.

Origin and History

The phrase such is life” has a rich history that dates back centuries. This section will explore its origins, including its etymology and how it has been used in various contexts throughout history.


The phrase is derived from the Latin phrase “sic vita est,” which directly translates to “so is life” or “such is life.” It is often used to express acceptance of a situation or to denote that life is full of unpredictable events and experiences.

This phrase has been used in multiple languages and adapted over time to fit different cultural contexts.


The origin of the phrase “such is life” is often attributed to a book called A Grammar of the Italian Language written by Joseph Baretti and published in 1762. The phrase “Cosi va’l mondo!” in Italian means so goes the world in English.

The phrase has since evolved and is now applied to a wide range of situations, serving as a reminder of the transient nature of life and the importance of accepting whatever may come our way


In English, such is life” became popular during the 19th century, particularly in literature and poetry. Its usage in notable works such as Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Charles Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities helped solidify its presence in the English language and culture.


In French, the phrase “c’est la vie” shares a similar meaning and has a long history of use in literature and everyday conversation. Its popularity stems from its simplicity and the universal truth it conveys about the unpredictable nature of life.


In Spanish, the phrase “así es la vida” also translates to “Such is life” and has been used to express acceptance and understanding in various cultural contexts. Like its English and French counterparts, it serves as a reminder of the sometimes-challenging nature of the human experience.

Importance of Using “Such Is Life”

Adopting the phrase “such is life” into one’s vocabulary offers various benefits that contribute to a healthier mindset and improved communication.

  • Helps maintain healthy relationships: Using “such is life” demonstrates a realistic perspective and can help maintain healthy relationships. This phrase encourages conversations to remain grounded and avoids potential conflicts that may arise from placing blame on others.
  • Acceptance: The phrase encourages individuals to acknowledge situations without judgment, cultivating acceptance and inner peace.
  • Resilience: It fosters a resilient mindset, allowing individuals to recover more quickly from setbacks.
  • Mindfulness: Using “such is life” promotes mindfulness by focusing on the present moment and embracing the inherent unpredictability of life. It can also alleviate stress and anxiety by offering a reminder that life’s imperfections are universal, and everyone experiences challenges.

By encouraging acceptance and flexibility in the face of adversity, individuals who embrace this phrase are better equipped to manage their emotional well-being.

Perceptions and Interpretations

When examining the phrase “such is life,” it’s important to consider how different people may perceive and interpret it. Perspectives may vary greatly depending on philosophical beliefs, cultural backgrounds, and individual experiences.

Philosophical perspectives

Throughout history, different philosophical schools of thought have created various interpretations of the phrase “such is life.”

  • Some philosophers may view it through the lens of determinism, believing that life’s events are predestined and that one must accept their fate.
  • Others, such as existentialists, might see the phrase as a reminder that individuals have the power and responsibility to create meaning in their lives.

Cultural variances

Culture can also play a significant role in how “such is life” is understood.

  • In one culture, the phrase may be seen as a collective acknowledgment that life is full of challenges and uncertainties.
  • In another, it may emphasize the importance of resilience and the ability to adapt to changing circumstances.

These cultural differences in interpretation can even be traced to unique historical events or long-standing societal values.

Individual experiences

Lastly, an individual’s personal experiences can profoundly shape their perception of “such is life.”

  • Someone who has overcome difficult obstacles may interpret the phrase as a testament to their resilience and growth.
  • Another person who has faced similar challenges may see it as evidence of life’s inherent unpredictability.
  • People may also change their perspectives over time as they encounter new experiences and gain wisdom.

Overall, the phrase “such is life” is more than just a simple idiom. By examining its interpretation through various philosophical, cultural, and individual lenses, we can gain insight into the complex human experience.

Examples of Usage


“Such is life” can be traced back to philosophical thoughts and ideas. The phrase echoes the ancient philosophy of stoicism, which encourages individuals to accept life’s unpredictability and inevitable hardships. The concept of such is life reminds us to stay resilient and adapt when facing life’s myriad challenges.

Visual Arts

In the realm of visual arts, the idea of “such is life” has been expressed through various mediums.

Some artists depict the phrase through paintings that show the different stages of human life or the cyclical nature of existence. These artworks often focus on the fleeting, transient nature of life and our inability to control many aspects of it. For example:

  • Vanitas paintings in the Baroque period, which depicted symbols of death, decay, and the brevity of human life.
  • Impressionist artists, such as Claude Monet, exploring the fleeting moments of light and color in their works, reflecting the ephemeral nature of life.
  • Contemporary street art, using the phrase “such is life” to highlight societal issues and the complicated nature of human existence.


The expression “such is life” can also be found in music, where composers, lyricists, and performers imbue their works with themes of life’s unpredictability and impermanence. Throughout history, numerous genres and artists have engaged with this theme, as seen in the following examples:

  • Classical composers like Ludwig van Beethoven, who captured the emotional turmoil and uncertainty of life in his Symphony No. 9, marked by its varying tempos and dynamic contrasts.
  • Folk singer-songwriters, such as Bob Dylan, weaving stories of life’s ups and downs in their lyrics, exploring love, loss, and the human condition.
  • Modern alternative rock bands like Radiohead, addressing themes related to the fragility of life through their enigmatic lyrics and atmospheric soundscapes.
  • In the song “Such is Life” by the band Rank 1, the phrase is used to express the ephemeral and unpredictable nature of life.

Application in Literature

In various works, authors utilize the phrase to convey a sense of acceptance in face of challenges or disappointments. It is commonly seen in novels, short stories, and plays, showcasing the resilience of human nature.

The phrase “such is life” has been used in many famous literary works, such as:

  • The Great Gatsby
  • To Kill a Mockingbird
  • The Catcher in the Rye

One prominent example is from the Australian novel Such is Life by author Joseph Furphy. The phrase encapsulates the resilience and determination of the characters navigating the hardships of rural life in late 19th century Australia.

Film and Television

In the realm of film and television, “such is life” has found its way into many scripts, serving as an impactful and embedded expression.

Characters often say this to make sense of unexpected or unfortunate situations, allowing them to move forward. This phrase has appeared in various genres, from dramas to comedies, reflecting its versatile nature.

Television series like Seinfeld and Friends have used the phrase in dialogues to highlight the ups and downs experienced by the characters.

Did You Know? The phrase has also been used in Forrest Gump and The Godfather.

Everyday Conversation

In daily life, the phrase “such is life” can apply to various situations. These occurrences emphasize the unpredictability and uncontrollable aspects of life. Some examples of how the phrase is used in conversation include:

A friend is explaining how they lost their job.“I was let go last week, but such is life. I’ll just start looking for something new.”
After encountering difficulties while planning a vacation.“We wanted to book that hotel, but it was fully booked. Such is life, we’ll find another one.”
When discussing a recent breakup.“It didn’t work out between us, but such is life, and I am moving on.”

Personal Relationships

Love, friendship, and family dynamics are complex aspects of life, and “such is life” moments can manifest during significant events or even in mundane interactions. Some examples of such is life in personal relationships are:

  • A long-time friendship dissolving with no clear reason.
  • Unrequited love, where feelings are not reciprocated by the other person.
  • Family disagreements that remain unresolved despite the efforts made to find common ground.

Workplace Situations

In professional settings, “such is life” moments can involve unexpected changes in job positions, office politics or management, and project complications. Some examples include:

  • An employee being laid off due to budget cuts irrespective of their excellent performance on the job.
  • Unexpectedly being passed over for a promotion in favor of someone else.
  • A previously successful project encountering unforeseen complications, leading to delays or failures.

Unexpected Events

Life is full of surprises, and “such is life” situations can occur during random, unplanned events that catch people off guard. Some examples of such moments are:

  • Experiencing a flat tire on an important day, causing unforeseen delays.
  • Encountering bad weather during an outdoor event despite a promising forecast.
  • Discovering hidden costs or complications on a construction project that was initially believed to be straightforward.

Famous Quotes

  • Charles Dickens: The phrase “such is life” appears in Charles Dickens’s novel Our Mutual Friend, where Mr. Boffin uses it to acknowledge the unpredictability of life.
  • Ernest Hemingway: In A Farewell to Arms, this expression is used by the protagonist, Frederic Henry, to deal with the harsh realities of war.

Similar Expressions in Other Languages

Just like the English expression “Such is life,” many other languages have their own idiomatic expressions that convey a similar meaning. These expressions provide a unique insight into different cultures and their ways of perceiving life’s unforeseen events. Here are a few examples of similar expressions in other languages:

  • French: “C’est la vie” — Literally translating to “That’s life,” this expression is used to acknowledge situations beyond one’s control, similar to the English expression.
  • Spanish: “Así es la vida” — With a direct translation of “So is life,” it shares the same sentiment in accepting life’s unpredictable nature.
  • Italian: “Così è la vita” — This phrase also means That’s life” or “That’s how life is,” reaffirming the universality of the concept among various cultures.
  • German: “So ist das Leben” — Meaning “That’s how life is,” this German phrase similarly touches on the acceptance of unpredictable events in life.
  • Russian: “Такова жизнь” (Takova zhizn’) — With a direct translation of “Such is life,” this Russian expression shares the same notion of life’s unpredictability.

Cultural Interpretations

When examining the phrase “such is life” across different cultures and continents, one can find various interpretations and expressions with some similarities and differences. Let’s explore this theme in more detail.

North America

In North America, “such is life” often conveys a sense of acceptance or resignation towards life’s inevitable ups and downs.

The phrase is commonly used in daily conversations as a reminder that life is full of unpredictable events, and adapting and moving forward is essential. This sentiment is reflected in various cultural expressions and proverbs, such as “life goes on” or “that’s just the way it is.”


In European cultures, the concept of “such is life” can be seen in various expressions, such as “C’est la vie” in French, which directly translates to “That’s life.”

Similar phrases across European languages, like “Así es la vida” in Spanish and “Tal è la vita” in Italian, also convey a sense of acceptance and adaptation to life’s challenges. These phrases exemplify the European mindset of embracing life’s unpredictability and highlights the importance of resilience.


As diverse as Asia itself, several interpretations of the phrase “such is life” can be found in different cultures.

For instance, in the Chinese and Japanese traditions, the notion of accepting life’s impermanence is a prevalent theme in their philosophies, such as Buddhism and Taoism. There are proverbs, like the Chinese “Shi shi ru ci” (事实如此), which means “It is what it is,” demonstrating a sense of acceptance and adaptability to life’s ever-changing nature.


African cultures also exhibit similar sentiments to the phrase “Such is life,” often expressed through proverbs that emphasize the necessity of being resilient in the face of hardships.

For instance, the Swahili proverb “Haraka haraka haina baraka” which means, “Hurry, hurry has no blessings,” reminds people to take their time and accept that life will have its challenges and triumphs, and rushing through it will not change this reality.

South America

In South American cultures, sayings like the Brazilian Portuguese “É a vida” (It is life) and the Spanish “Así es la vida” express a sense of accepting life’s unpredictability and its ebbs and flows.

These expressions remind people of the importance of moving forward despite the challenges present in life, creating a shared understanding and connection across various cultures in South America.


Across the diverse cultures of Oceania, the general sentiment of “such is life” can be found in different languages and expressions.

For example, in Australia and New Zealand, this acceptance of life’s unpredictability is seen in phrases like “She’ll be right,” which demonstrates the value of optimism and resilience in facing life’s challenges.

Similar expressions can be found among the Pacific Islands, encouraging a collective acceptance and adaptability to life’s uncertainties.


Contextualization is the process of understanding and interpreting a word, phrase, or concept based on its context. It involves taking into account:

  • The surrounding words
  • The speaker or writer’s intention
  • The broader social and cultural factors that influence the meaning and significance of the term

In the case of “such is life,” contextualization is essential because the phrase can have different meanings depending on the context and the speaker’s attitude toward the situation. Here are some practical examples of how contextualization can help us understand the phrase better:

Personal Context

Suppose you are going through a difficult time in your life, such as a breakup, a health issue, or a financial setback. If someone says to you, “such is life,” the meaning of the phrase may depend on your emotional state and beliefs. Here are some possible interpretations:

  • If you feel overwhelmed and helpless, the phrase may come across as fatalistic or apathetic, implying that you can do nothing to change your situation.
  • If you are trying to cope with your situation and find meaning in it, the phrase may be comforting, suggesting that adversity is a natural part of life and you can learn from it.
  • If you are optimistic and resilient, the phrase may be empowering, reminding you that you have the strength and resilience to face any challenge.

Cultural Context

The meaning of “such is life” can also depend on the cultural and social norms of the speaker and the listener. For example:

  • In some cultures, such as Japan, the phrase “Shikata ga nai” (“It cannot be helped”) reflects a strong sense of fatalism and acceptance of fate.
  • In other cultures, such as the United States, the phrase “It is what it is” is often used to convey a similar sentiment of acceptance and resignation.
  • In Australia, where the phrase “such is life” is popular, it reflects a sense of resilience and resourcefulness in the face of adversity, as embodied in the national character of the “Aussie battler.”

Historical Context

Finally, the meaning of “such is life” can also be influenced by its historical background and usage. For example:

  • The phrase has been used in many literary works, such as The Great Gatsby and The Catcher in the Rye, where it often conveys a sense of disillusionment and existential angst.
  • In Joseph Furphy’s novel Such is Life, the phrase is used as a refrain throughout the book, reflecting the Australian pioneer spirit of resilience and endurance in the face of harsh conditions.

By understanding the different contexts, we can better recognize the appropriateness of using this expression.

Did You Know? "Such is life" is often used to convey the message that we have to take responsibility for our own lives and not rely on others to solve our problems.

When to Use “Such Is Life”

Knowing when to use the phrase can help individuals:

  • Express acceptance.
  • Offer consolation.
  • Simply provide a commentary on the nature of certain situations.

During Unexpected Setbacks

One common instance of using “such is life” is during unexpected, non-serious setbacks in everyday life.

For example, when facing minor inconveniences like losing an umbrella or missing a bus, the phrase conveys a reminder to not dwell on small problems and move on with life.

During Uncontrollable Circumstances

“Such is life” can also be used when circumstances are out of one’s control. The phrase helps in highlighting an understanding that sometimes, things happen without any apparent reason or explanation.

For instance, if someone’s plans are suddenly changed due to unforeseen weather conditions, acknowledging the unpredictability of life can offer a sense of peace.

To Comment on Universal Life Events

Lastly, “such is life” can be used to comment on the universal human experiences and challenges that everyone faces. Acknowledging that certain events are a part of life reinforces the notion that no one is exempt from these trials and tribulations.

Examples of this might include:

  • Facing criticism
  • Experiencing heartbreak
  • Enduring disappointments

Life is known for its unpredictability and frequent curveballs, and “such is life” acknowledges the inevitability of these situations. The phrase serves as a verbal shorthand, summarizing the resilience necessary to navigate these unpredictable circumstances.

Did You Know? The expression of "such is life" conveys a sense of stoicism amidst life's challenges.

Using the Phrase Effectively: Tips and Strategies

Understanding the phrase “such is life” and its various meanings is essential for using it effectively in conversation or writing.

Appropriate Contexts

Since the expression is often used to express resignation or acceptance of an unfavorable situation, it should generally be used in the context of mild disappointments or unexpected events. Consider the following examples:

  • After going through a breakup, one might say, “Such is life, I’ll find someone else eventually.”
  • Upon receiving a parking ticket, a person may shrug and say, “Well, such is life. I should have paid more attention to the parking signs.”

Cultural Considerations

Being sensitive to cultural differences is important when using idiomatic expressions like “such is life.” While the phrase has a broad understanding, its use and perceived meaning may vary across different cultures.

  1. In some cultures, the phrase might be viewed as an acceptance of fate or destiny, while others may see it more as a casual way to minimize small frustrations.
  2. When engaging with people from diverse backgrounds, it’s always a good idea to keep these cultural differences in mind.
  3. Do not assume the other person will instantly understand the meaning of the expression.
  4. To ensure clear communication, it might be best to rephrase or clarify the message if there are any concerns about the listener’s comprehension of the phrase.
Pro Tip: Avoid using the phrase in severe or deeply troubling situations. Using it inappropriately could be seen as out of touch or dismissive of someone's feelings or difficulties.

Application in Modern Life

In modern life, the phrase “such is life” can be applied to various situations to express acceptance, resignation, or understanding. For instance, one might encounter challenges in their career or personal relationships, and using “such is life” conveys an acceptance of these natural ups and downs.

Additionally, in today’s fast-paced world, unexpected events such as job loss, health issues, or changes in personal circumstances can occur. In these instances, saying “such is life” emphasizes the ever-changing nature of life and serves as a coping mechanism for dealing with these unexpected events.

In the following contexts, the phrase is often heard:

  • Work: When experiencing setbacks at work, like not getting a promotion, colleagues may say “such is life” as a means of comfort and solidarity.
  • Relationships: Breakups, disagreements, or other difficult situations in relationships might prompt the use of “such is life” to process emotions and move forward.
  • Losses: Faced with the loss of a loved one, friends might utter “such is life” as a reminder of the transient nature of existence.

In conclusion, “such is life” holds a significant place in modern life as a tool to understand, accept, and cope with challenges that arise. The phrase’s universality allows it to remain relevant in various contexts and experiences.

Application in Everyday Context

In everyday life, the phrase “such is life” can be applied to various situations and experiences, helping individuals cope with the unforeseen circumstances and uncontrollable events.

Dealing with Challenges

Life is full of ups and downs, and individuals often face challenges that test their resilience and adaptability. In these situations, embracing the mindset of “such is life” can help individuals come to terms with the current events and remain focused on finding solutions, rather than dwelling on the challenges themselves.

  • Financial difficulties

Job loss or unexpected expenses often create stress and anxiety, but accepting them as part of life’s uncertainty can alleviate negativity and promote forward-thinking behavior.

  • Relationship setbacks

Breakups and conflicts are inevitable parts of human connection, and recognizing these as natural progressions in life may lead to healthier coping strategies and personal growth.

  • Health issues

Experiencing health challenges can be discouraging, yet adopting a “such is life” attitude may enable individuals to concentrate on following the appropriate medical advice and tackling problems as best they can.

Personal Growth

Personal growth often stems from adversity, as it presents the opportunity to learn from experiences and develop new skills or qualities. By viewing difficulties through the lens of “such is life,” individuals can approach these situations as learning opportunities, fostering growth in various dimensions of their lives.

DimensionPotential Growth
EmotionalCultivating resilience and mental flexibility in the face of adversity.
SocialStrengthening relationships by improving communication skills and empathy in challenging times.
CognitiveDeveloping problem-solving skills and critical thinking capacities through exposure to a wide range of experiences.
PhysicalBuilding physical endurance and self-discipline through challenges such as health crises or physical exertion.


At its core, the “such is life” mentality encourages acceptance of the unpredictable and uncontrollable aspects of life. With this mindset, individuals can learn to let go of the urge to control every situation and instead focus on their reactions and personal growth.

Adopting an attitude of acceptance can lead to:

  • Reduced stress
  • Healthier coping strategies
  • Increased satisfaction with life’s unpredictable journey

The phrase echoes the necessity of embracing this mindset, ultimately allowing individuals to navigate the complexities of the human experience with grace and resilience.

Pros and Cons of Using “Such Is Life”

The phrase “such is life” can be used in various situations and has its own pros and cons. The following paragraphs will discuss some of these pros and cons.

Pros of Using “Such is Life”:

  • Acceptance of circumstances: This phrase helps individuals accept challenging or difficult situations and move on with their lives, acknowledging that life is not always perfect.
  • Conversational filler: “Such is life” can be a useful conversational filler when one may not have a more specific or helpful response to another person’s situation or experience.
  • Universal understanding: Since the phrase is widely used and understood, it can effectively convey empathy or solidarity without the need for lengthy explanations.

Cons of Using “Such is Life”:

  • Perceived indifference: In some cases, using the phrase may come across as dismissive, suggesting a lack of empathy or concern for other people’s struggles.
  • Lack of specificity: Due to the generic nature of the phrase, it does not provide any constructive or actionable advice, which may not always be appropriate or helpful.
  • Overuse: Consistent use of the phrase may dilute its impact and cause it to lose meaning, making it less effective in expressing understanding or providing comfort.
Acceptance of circumstancesPerceived indifference
Conversational fillerLack of specificity
Universal understandingOveruse

Frequently Asked Questions

Is “such is life” a positive or negative statement?

It’s considered neutral, as it conveys acceptance of life’s unpredictable nature, which can include both positive and negative events.

Is “such is life” a formal or informal expression?

“Such is life” is more of an informal expression, and it may not be suitable for use in formal writing or professional settings.

How common is the use of “such is life”?

While not as frequent as some other idioms, “such is life” is still commonly used in casual conversations and popular culture references.


“Such is life,” an expression that encapsulates the unpredictability and acceptance of life’s ups and downs, has found its way into various aspects of literature, media, and daily conversations. It serves as a reminder that life is full of unexpected events, both good and bad, and that we must often adapt and move forward.

Furthermore, the continued usage of “such is life” in modern discourse demonstrates its ongoing relevance and adaptability to a range of contexts and situations.

In conclusion, “such is life” remains an enduring expression that offers both comfort and perspective, encouraging individuals to accept and navigate the ever-changing nature of their existence.

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Jessa Claire is a registered healthcare provider. Music lover. Daydreamer. Thalassophile. Foodie. A hardworking Capricorn. Most days, an incurable empath. An old soul. Down-to-earth. Vibrant. When she's not writing, she can be seen relaxing with headphones on or engrossed in her favorite fan fiction book.