I have been a bit of a movie buff lately, and I have noticed the same phrase in several movies I have been watching lately (with some minor variation):

"It's just [good] business"

This has occurred in multiple movies, which to my knowledge are completely unrelated, such as "Lego Movie", "Monsters vs. Aliens", "Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Man's Chest"* and "Pirates of the Carribean: at World's End"*, as well of a few others.

So where does the phrase come from?

*these are related (clearly), they are just a repeat by the same character in two parts of the same series.

  • 1
    "It's just business" is an idiom of long standing and it's origin is likely impossible to nail down. In a movie context, the idiom is likely to be invoked when an actor (likely the villain) is about to make a decision that is pragmatic, cynical, and perhaps a bit selfish, vs being kind or altruistic. The implication is that the action being taken is a simple business decision, and speaker is (self-) justified in not being emotional.
    – Hot Licks
    Oct 6, 2015 at 1:28
  • As to where the phrase comes from, I doubt that you can find an "origin". It's an obvious expression for a cynic, and one can likely find similar phrases in Shakespeare and the Bible.
    – Hot Licks
    Oct 6, 2015 at 2:16

1 Answer 1


When I did the research, I found a man by the name of Otto Berman. He was an accountant for an organised crime syndicate in the 1930's. He is the man who is believed to have coined the phrase "It's not personal, It's just business"

Answer taken from a separate (now deleted) migration from Movies & TV - originally by Kristen Adell Miller. Can be seen here by those with the necessary rep.

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