English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

This is from the transcript of a podcast.

How many times has it happened to you: you’re sitting around watching a rerun of Friends and you think: Man, if only I could catch a whiff of that hazelnut mochaccino they’re all pretending to drink. Well, me neither.

But engineers have now developed a programmable, odor-emitting device that, like it or not, brings us one step closer to realizing the dream of smell-a-vision.

Here is my question:

How to understand "like it or not" here?

share|improve this question
up vote 6 down vote accepted

The phrase is a shortening of whether you like it or not.

I.e. whether you think the consequence of the action is good or bad doesn't matter, it will occur anyway.

So for your snippet, the author is saying that it doesn't matter if you like the idea of smell-a-vision[sic] the aforementioned device is getting us one step closer to that reality.

share|improve this answer

"Like it or not" is shorthand for a longer expression, "Whether you like it or not," that is, whether you like a thing or you do not like it, it is what it is anyway.

"Like it or not" is a phrase added to tell the listener that the speaker is claiming to withhold judgment but recognizes that there are good and bad implications to what he is saying.

"Like it or not, this is the way it is," might be something a boss says to an employee once the boss has made a decision, if the employee responds negatively.

share|improve this answer
It's worth noting that Smell-o-vision is something that people don't always like, in historical attempts to create it and in humorous portrayals in pop culture. In the context of the podcast, the speaker is suggesting that you probably don't want to smell everything that comes with smell-o-vision - the speaker says "like it or not," but is really saying you won't like it and you have to accept it will happen anyway. – aedia λ Jun 20 '11 at 20:41

The phrase "like it or not" is used to indicate that something will happen even if you do not like it/want it.

In the above transcript, it means that the the odor-emitting device will bring us one step closer to smell-a-vision even if you don't like the idea of such a device.

share|improve this answer

As others have said, it means that something will occur regardless of whether you want it to or not. Similar to willy-nilly (second definition).

share|improve this answer

protected by Rathony Jun 2 at 13:33

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.