In an English movie, Marianne and Bob were talking to each other:

Marianne: "Joy went to Jordan last week to search for religious sites."

Bob: "You don't say?"

My question is: What does Bob's reply mean here? Was he angry to hear this about Joe or was he surprised to know that Joe went to Jordan?

  • 1
    I'd like to mention that it is also a very popular meme involving Nicolas Cage! I came to know about the phrase through the meme.
    – BiscuitBoy
    Dec 12, 2015 at 13:42
  • "You don't say! ... You don't say! ... You don't say!" "Well, what's going on?" "He didn't say"
    – Mitch
    Dec 12, 2015 at 16:24

2 Answers 2


"You don't say?"


  1. used to express amazement or disbelief.


Bob could have easily have simply said, "really?"

  • thanks for the reply. When someone , say You are talking to me. You : "Starkeen! The world is going to end by 2099." Starkeen : "You don't say.? World will never end ". Does it make sense to append another sentence to this phrase?
    – Amit Verma
    Dec 12, 2015 at 6:02
  • 1
    Appending a contradictory sentence right after it is a little jarring. An introductory phrase might help. "You don't say? I think the world will never end". Helps transition from disbelief to contradiction. Dec 12, 2015 at 6:10

You don't say is an idiom and can mean several things depending on context. Could range from sarcasm or irony to mild surprise or amazement. The hearers usually have to supply the interpretation for themselves.

How surprising, is that true? Also, I find that hard to believe. For example, I've been working on this project for two years.-You don't say, or The man who runs this soup kitchen is a real saint.-You don't say! This expression, a shortening of you don't say so, may be used straightforwardly or ironically. [Late 1800s]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

  • Wait, sarcasm and irony would mean the same here. And you can use them on any idiom. Dec 12, 2015 at 6:19

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