What's done is done

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"What's done is done" is an idiom in English.

The expression uses the word "done" in the sense of "finished" or "settled", a usage which dates back to the first half of the 15th century.[1]


It usually means something along the line of: the consequence of a situation (which was once within your control), is now out of your control, that is, "there's no changing the past, so learn from it and move on."


One of the first-recorded uses of this phrase was by the character Lady Macbeth in Act 3, Scene 2 of the tragedy play Macbeth (early 17th century), by the English playwright William Shakespeare, who said: "Things without all remedy Should be without regard: what's done, is done"[2] and "Give me your hand. What's done cannot be undone. – To bed, to bed, to bed!"[3]

Shakespeare did not coin the phrase; it is actually a derivative of the early 14th-century French proverb: Mez quant ja est la chose fecte, ne peut pas bien estre desfecte, which is translated into English as "But when a thing is already done, it cannot be undone".[4]

It was first used in the Mahabharata when Vidura tells Dhritarashta when Dhritarashta realises the consequences of his actions.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "What does "what's done is done" mean?". Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company (via yourdictionary.com). Retrieved December 6, 2011.
  2. ^ "What's Done is Done – Shakespeare Quotes". eNotes. Retrieved December 6, 2011.
  3. ^ "Macbeth: Act 5, Scene 1, Page 3". SparkNotes. Retrieved December 6, 2011.
  4. ^ Bruce, Elyse (June 29, 2010). "What's Done Is Done". Idiomation (via WordPress. Retrieved December 6, 2011.