I'd like to find some gender-neutral equivalents of the phrase

Take it like a man

I'm not looking only for existing phrases -- any interesting ideas for expressing the sentiment "be tough", without implying that only one gender or the other would be tough, are welcome.

  • A word that I've heard one group of my younger friends starting to use recently as a colloquial, gender neutral equivalent to "man up" is "fortify". It's a new one to me, though, so I can't attest to how widespread its usage is. Commented Jul 24, 2016 at 20:46
  • "Be an adult!".
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Aug 16, 2017 at 3:28

8 Answers 8


"Keep a stiff upper lip"

Someone who has a stiff upper lip does not show their feelings when they are upset

"Keep your chin up"

to stay cheerful and hopeful during difficult times

"Take one for the team"

to agree to do something unpleasant that you do not really want to do, or not have something that you want, in order to help or be kind to other people in a group

"Grin and bear it"

to accept something bad without complaining

"Suck it up"

To put up with something; to deal with something, such as pain or misfortune, without complaining.

"Roll with the punches"

1] to cope with and survive adversity
2] to not allow difficulties or criticism to discourage you or affect you badly

"Nil illegitimi carborundum"

A humorous pseudo-Latin expression meant to translate as "don't let the bastards grind you down," meaning do not succumb to the oppressive influence of others.
[The Free Dictionary]

And a personal favorite, especially in the context of this question,

"Put on your big girl panties"

Pulling up your big girl panties is more than just moving on or dealing with that particular moment. It’s really about standing up, leaving the junk behind and moving forward. It’s about being strong and audacious and bold.

  • 13
    The last one, IMHO, is not exactly gender neutral. Commented Jun 9, 2011 at 4:39
  • 2
    Definitely not gender neutral (though at least as gender neutral as "cowboy up"). Equally definitely does not "imply that only a man would be tough".
    – chaos
    Commented Jun 9, 2011 at 4:40
  • Great list! I've always seen the "carborundum" phrase start with "Non" (not like that would make it any more correct, of course :).
    – jscs
    Commented Jun 9, 2011 at 4:43
  • 5
    I think big girl panties can be worn by either gender. Nice one.
    – Kit Z. Fox
    Commented Jun 9, 2011 at 12:55
  • 1
    @Kit: Thanks. I certainly use it in that fashion. ('s why I compared it to "cowboy up"; both contain a gendered term but need not be used consistently with it.)
    – chaos
    Commented Jun 9, 2011 at 15:09

The gender neutral form of man is adult or grown-up, so I would suggest:

Take it like an adult

Take it like a grown-up

These are not as idiomatic and do not really preserve the original force of the statement, but that's how gender neutrality often goes.

  • Definitely lacking the same zing, but might serve as insults!
    – jscs
    Commented Jun 9, 2011 at 4:45

Harden up

Toughen up

No guts, no glory!

An appropriate equivalent would be like:

Take it like a champ!

  • Take it on the chin!

  • Take it like a trooper.


Cowboy up!

I have heard this expression used by men and women alike, and directed at men and women alike.


Take your medicine

It's a bit old fashioned, but conveys the same meaning.


Don't be such a cry baby.

Another idea:

Take it like a unicorn.


I suggest "bite the bullet." Toughness implied, no specific genitalia required.


My favourite:

Suck it up, princess

Not exactly gender-neutral

  • 4
    I'd say it actually is gender-neutral in this case! Well, sort of, anyway. It works well (and I've often heard it used) on both genders. Bit of a different jab depending on the gender, but same results either way.
    – user12183
    Commented Aug 21, 2011 at 7:47
  • 2
    It's used on both genders, but it is emphatically not gender-neutral. When used on a man, the insult comes from comparing him to a woman. The whole concept of this expression is that being called female is an insult. Not a good choice.
    – TRiG
    Commented Apr 25, 2012 at 19:19
  • 1
    @TRiG, I would say the insult comes from comparing a man to a princess, a particular type of woman, not to women in general.
    – dangph
    Commented Jul 4, 2013 at 23:40

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