Some background first: I was reading about the futility that has become the Cleveland Cavaliers’ NBA season after Lebron James’s departure in the newspaper of the Plains Dealer, when I came across this sentence quoting Antwan Jamison:

“It’s like Groundhog Day every day,” Jamison admitted of their epic losing streak.

What does this mean? Yes, I’ve read up on and know what Groundhog Day literally is: a holiday that celebrates a quaint folk tradition of determining the seasons. But I would have thought that a metaphor or an idiom involving the day would give an indeterminate or anticipatory impression, while Jamison’s construction here makes it seem like its usage is uniformly negative.

So I was wondering, does anyone know if there's something interesting in the history of this holiday that would explain this particular negative usage? How was the phrase coined?

I’d also be interested in knowing whether this is a common term in certain areas of the country, as I’ve never heard it before, and the demographics of the sort of people who use this phrase.

  • 3
    About your edit: "from whence" is a bit redundant (though idiomatic); since "whence" or "from where" would mean the same thing. (Discussed previously.) Mar 8, 2011 at 6:35
  • A word to the observant: I originally committed the "everyday" vs. "every day" mistake, as detailed here english.stackexchange.com/questions/6644/everyday-vs-every-day, in the title of this post. Beware!
    – Uticensis
    Mar 10, 2011 at 1:37
  • I think the basic message of the film is the corollary of Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. Which can be crudely rephrased as an exhortation to Learn from your mistakes, but that really doesn't have the same pithiness. Dec 14, 2011 at 14:20

3 Answers 3


To provide a smidge more detail, the movie Groundhog Day is about a man reliving the same day over and over and over. Every time he wakes up it's Groundhog Day again, and people always say the same things and do the same things over and over, and he's the only one who is aware of the infinite repetition and who is capable of doing things differently.

  • Aw, shucks. Now I feel silly, and not "with it." Here I was thinking of an answer along the lines of, "Gosh, Groundhog's Day was really important because had not the groundhog portended that spring was arriving, it was likely assured that [some huge percentage] of colonists would not survive winter and thus the colony was doomed...the expression has persisted in the rural parts of New England 'till the present day..." Turns out the answer is just a bit more pedestrian. Thanks ;)
    – Uticensis
    Feb 8, 2011 at 22:57
  • 3
    You should watch the movie, it's really quite good!
    – Hellion
    Feb 8, 2011 at 23:02
  • 19
    It's an excellent movie, I watch it over and over and over again. Feb 8, 2011 at 23:17
  • 1
    Very good movie. It's not readily apparent in the movie, but Bill Murray's character supposedly spends hundreds or thousands of years reliving the same day.
    – oosterwal
    Feb 9, 2011 at 0:00
  • 1
    @oosterwal: It's quite clear in the context of the movie that weatherman Phil repeats the day far, far more often than we actually see - how else would he have time to discover all those obscure personal details about Rita? Dec 14, 2011 at 14:15

It is taken from the film Groundhog Day, which has Groundhog Day every day as its basic conceit.

  • concept or conceit?
    – Martijn
    Jul 12, 2015 at 10:35
  • 2
    @Martijn: conceit
    – Henry
    Jul 12, 2015 at 11:31

Bottom line: refusing to consider archives of lessons learned.

In the business world, and again affectionately referencing the movie, the expression is used around the water cooler to lament on inefficiant processes. Companies/clients that continue to make the same development mistakes over-and-over fail to learn from the lessons of the day prior. Hence, despite lessons learned, they wake up with the same naive perspective on a problem that has already been addressed or even solved at some point in recent history.

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