I'm trying to find different ways of saying that "You don't have to be a rocket scientist", but I can't seem to get any good ideas.

I got a variation, "You don't have to be a brain surgeon...," but are there any others ways. It doesn't have to follow the routine of "You don't have to...".

  • 5
    "You don't have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great." ― Zig Ziglar
    – ermanen
    Commented Mar 4, 2015 at 10:37
  • 6
    Some might say these two are not equivalent, brain surgery is hardly rocket science
    – blgt
    Commented Mar 4, 2015 at 12:19
  • 3
    Or so easy, even you can do it!
    – bib
    Commented Mar 4, 2015 at 14:24
  • 6
    I normally hear this as 'it's not rocket science' or 'it's not brain surgery' -- or, occasionally, 'it's not rocket surgery'. At least in the UK, I think these are much more common than 'you don't have to be...'
    – evilsoup
    Commented Mar 4, 2015 at 17:55
  • 1
    Some possibilities which don't insult the intelligence of the reader: "possible for lay people" "use is intuitive" "a non-expert could"
    – RedSonja
    Commented Mar 5, 2015 at 8:07

12 Answers 12


Other related expressions are:

You don't have to be a genius/it doesn't take a genius:

  • 'You don't have to be a genius. You don't have to be superman. You don't even have to be a techie. Just have an idea." All you need is a good imagination and you'll find fertile soil. And . . . the best ideas are right under your nose. Ron Gordon ...

  • "I know that it doesn't take a genius to work out that sleep is important for good health."

or, you don't have to be Einstein:

  • They graduate! So, they end up going through life with this piece of paper that makes everybody think that they are smart, even if they are not. You don't have to be Einstein to have a place in college.

  • He was not sure he really wanted to know, though one didn't have to be Einstein to put two and two together.!!


my friend says you dont have to be a rocket surgeon..... or a brain scientist.... deliberately mashing up the two! Or you could say you dont have to be "Sheldon" smart.... ( reference to THE BIG BANG theory) which is my go to line!

  • 2
    I'd say its way cooler to be a rocket surgeon than a brain scientist Commented Mar 5, 2015 at 13:28

Something may be so simple or so easy that anyone can do it. There are lots of variants:

"So easy, a caveman could do it" - GEICO advertising campaign, 2004

"You don't have to be a craftsman or understand blueprints. [...] Detailed drawings so simple even a child can understand them!" - Advertisement for "The Home Craftsman" in Popular Science, January 1952, Page 52

"Beyonce’s choreographer: Her moves are so simple even your grandmother could do them" - Evening Standard, 13 February 2015

"Overclocking with Intel's new 2nd Generation Sandy Bridge K Skus is so easy even your grandma can do it and get extra performance out of her PC for the things she need most." - Intel advert, 2011

"In addition to that there are silly two Test match series against Zimbabwe and Bangladesh and there is no doubt in my mind that they are an embarrassment to Test cricket. Nobody wants to see it and the vast accumulation of runs against them does nothing for the game. My mum would have scored runs and taken wickets against the Bangladeshis. She’d have wanted to bat and bowl at both ends!" - Geoffrey Boycott, MCC Spirit of Cricket Cowdrey Lecture, 2005. (For other sporting comparisons see also: Geoffrey Boycott's mum's pinney; Geoffrey Boycott's gran.)

"Now any fool can see that if x is considered as made up of a lot of little bits, each of which is called dx, if you add them all up together you get the sum of all the dx's (which is the same thing as the whole of x). The word 'integral' simply means 'the whole.'" - Silvanus P. Thompson, Calculus Made Easy, 1910

  • 2
    Except that any more, when folks have trouble with an electronic device, they ask their children to figure it out.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Mar 4, 2015 at 13:26
  • 1
    @HotLicks Very true! I suspect that's why for electronic devices, we see "grandma" used instead! (I'll add an example in.)
    – Silverfish
    Commented Mar 4, 2015 at 14:01

No domain-specific knowledge is required.


You could say (in the UK vernacular) that the task is 'a piece of piss/cake' or 'as easy as falling off a log'.


In French we use the expression "même un enfant de 5 ans peut le faire" which means "even a 5 years old child can do it". This way, you avoid using a negative statement "you don't have to be..." Hope this helps :-)

  • 1
    A couple of weeks ago I saw a child no older than two using an iPhone to call up a video he wanted to watch. He did it like an expert.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Mar 4, 2015 at 13:28
  • 2
    This reminds me of one Einstein's quotes: "If you can't explain it to a six-year-old, you don't understand it yourself." Commented Mar 4, 2015 at 23:01
  • 1
    "Why a four-year-old child could understand this report! Run out and find me a four-year-old child, I can't make head or tail of it." - Rufus T. Firefly, Duck Soup, 1933. Commented Mar 5, 2015 at 10:19

"You don't need a degree in [seemingly related field] to...".


You might want to explain your context.

In some contexts, you could say what it is you do need to know or be able to do. For example, "You only need a basic knowledge of carpentry to..." or "... a knowledge of linear algebra is helpful, but no more-advanced mathematics will be used ...".

In a more generic context, you could say, "You don't have to be a foreign policy expert to understand that the proposed policy will have problems..."

If you're looking for well-worn phrases, you've got a bunch of good suggestions -- I'll add "You don't have to be an expert to..." and "Even a child could ..." -- and should select an answer. If you want something less generic, let us know your context.


This doesn't take the brains of Von Braun...

  • You do 'not see' that very often. Commented Mar 5, 2015 at 17:24

Firstly, good on you for looking for alternatives; some find it an oddly jarring expression.

To see why let me elaborate the answer from @gdesubasti regarding the Big Bang Theory.

To a string theorist such as Sheldon, rocket science (literally sense) is not rocket science (metaphorical sense). There is in fact an episode in which this is addressed directly.

After all Wolowitz is in a sense a rocket scientist and held in intellectual contempt by Sheldon as he is "just" an engineer, not a "real scientist".

Hence an alternative form " isn't string theory".

For example: "rocket science isn't string theory"!

See also: English Language Learner's entry for the phrase.


"I'm not an Engineer, but even I know that!" is another way to say it, you could even switch out engineer with whatever word you need and it should still make sense. Your basically saying 'this is common knowledge/its obvious!'


It's not like you're inventing the weel.

  • That doesn't have the required meaning. Commented Mar 5, 2015 at 11:11

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