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What Does "All in a Day's Work" Mean?

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  • Written By: E. Reeder
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 10 September 2014
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The phrase “all in a day’s work” is an idiom. This means it is a figure of speech with a meaning other than what it appears to mean. In this case, it means that even though something may seem unpleasant, challenging or outlandish, it is all part of the routine that goes into one’s job or other responsibilities.

This idiom could be used as a reply to someone mentioning how difficult a task or responsibility sounds. For example, a person might commend a friend on his ability to stay calm in his job as a customer service representative, despite the rude nature of many of those customers. In response, the friend might say, “It’s all in a day’s work.”

Many jobs have unpleasant responsibilities, such as those given to an animal control officer. These workers must round up animals that are sometimes wild, diseased, filthy or vicious, which can be dangerous. These officers also may be called on to enforce laws and regulations dealing with animals, such as fining people who let their pets run loose. In addition to dealing with problem animals, therefore, they also must deal with irate or difficult members of the public. To an animal control officer, this is all in a day’s work.

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Other workers who must accept unpleasant conditions include garbage collectors, also known as sanitation engineers. They collect, process, transport and dispose of the trash and refuse left by households and businesses. This is one job that most people would not want to do, especially since it is such a dirty and odiferous line of work. Sanitation engineers, like many workers, mostly consider the unpleasant conditions to be all in a day’s work.

Exterminators also have unpleasant jobs and could reasonably say, “All in a day’s work,” in response to questions about their responsibilities. They may have to deal with thousands of angry bees ready to sting them as they try to get these dangerous pests out of a house or a barn. People who exterminate also may routinely deal with rodents and cockroaches, often in tight spaces and using potentially hazardous chemicals.

Parents also may find the need to use this phrase in connection with their child-rearing responsibilities. While much of being a parent is pleasant, parents must sometimes deal with kids who are unruly, disrespectful or not performing at their best in school. They may even have to work more than one job to provide for their children. Dealing with all of it is all in a day’s work for parents.

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