Reader question: This is a headline: “Been there, seen that”. What does it mean?
It is a variation from the idiom “been there, done that”. The phrase points to situations/things of which one has had a lot of experience and therefore one is not terribly excited about what’s happening. Nor will one be intimidated by or too nervous about it, as a first timer might have been.
For instance, when Ding Junhui played Ronnie O’Sullivan in the first round of the World Snooker Championship back in April, it was Ding’s first ever game at snooker’s biggest event. As is common for first timers, Ding was not able to bring his best to the occasion – he’s got the jitters. O’Sullivan, on the other hand, is a two-time world champion. He had “been there, done that”, exactly. O’Sullivan was probably neither too excited about the opportunity nor was intimidated at all by the atmosphere. For him, it was business as usual. And the difference in experience showed eventually in scoreline: 10-2 in favor of Ronnie the “Rocket”.
That loss is hopefully a good experience for Ding, who needs such growing pains if he is to live up to the hype of becoming a future No. 1 in a European-dominated sport. In O’Sullivan’s own words: “Tennis has Federer, golf has Tiger Woods, Ding could do the same to snooker.” Hopefully, all in good time.
Here are a media example each for “been their, done that”, “been there, seen that” and “been there, done it”.
1. Been There, Done That
Would teenage pregnancy rates improve if students simply heard about the reality of young motherhood from those who know?
(Guardian, November 24, 2004)
2. Been There, Seen That
To the Editor:
When a nerve cell dies, it emits a barrage of electrical impulses that greatly exceeds the signal traffic in its neighborhood for a few seconds. Then, the cell’s batteries exhausted, it trails away into silence (“Deja Vu”).
Deja vu, I believe, occurs when this happens in the hippocampus, the part of the brain that encodes memories. For a few seconds, the dying cell screams “Been here before!”
Similar phenomena probably occur when neurons die in other parts of the brain. These supernova-like death throes may be the only occasions when the activity of a single neuron affects our conscious experience.
DR. SIMON LEVAY
West Hollywood, Calif.
(New York Times, September 21, 2004)
3. Been there, done it, says confident Hewitt
Two-time grand slam winner Lleyton Hewitt believes that he has finally mastered the art of clay court play.
(ABC News, June 1, 2004)