The expression "one and done" is from basketball according to yourdictionary.com and means:

(slang, basketball) A basketball player who plays college basketball for a single year and then declares for the NBA draft. John Calipari's Kentucky squad was made up of one-and-done players.

But what does the expression mean outside the basketball context? How can it be correctly used?

For instance what does it mean in the following context?

"Fed’s Fischer on rates: Can’t say one ‘and done’" by Greg Robb, MarketWatch.com, Aug. 30, 2016

It is impossible to say whether the next interest-rate hike would be “one and done,” Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer said on Tuesday.

“We can choose the pace. But we choose the pace on the basis of data that are coming in,” Fischer said in an interview on Bloomberg Television.

“So I don’t think we know at the time we start whether it’s one and done or several. It depends entirely on what happens in the economy,” Fischer said.

Last week, at the Fed’s closely followed Jackson Hole, Wyo., policy retreat, Fischer said he saw the possibility of two rate hikes this year.


4 Answers 4


As you have discovered, one and done became popularized after a controversial National Basketball Association draft rule introduced in 2006. Recruits needed to be 19 years old by the end of the draft year and one year removed from their high school graduation before they were eligible to participate. The effect was that high school players who might have gone directly into professional play instead spent a single year playing at the collegiate level; they were not interested in a collegiate career, but would be one [year of college play] and [then] done [with college play].

But the basketball/sports recruiting meaning is not the only way to use the phrase one and done, especially outside of sports and in more casual registers. The phrase is short and rhymes pleasantly, and its literal meaning often applies: something is done once, and then done no more.

Disposable products (e.g. tissues, contact lenses, diapers, dinnerware) might be referred to as one and done referring to their lifecycle and usage pattern. There is a brand of baby wipe so named because, presumably, a diaper change requires only a single wipe, as opposed to competitors' multi-wipe offerings. Other products use it to refer to ease of use: a single application, a single transaction.

Elsewhere in sports, it has been used to refer to false start rules (to be disqualified after a single false start) and to tournament performance (to be eliminated after one round). A couple might be one and done if they plan to have only one child. In the U.S. military, a one and done is a serviceman who signs up for only a single enlistment. I can think of at least three or four ways to interpret it when referring to romantic relationships and sexual congress.

Stanley Fischer's comments can be taken to mean that if the Federal Reserve raises interest rates, it may raise them again not long thereafter. A one and done action by the Fed, in contrast, would indicate that a single rate increase would not be followed up with another, at least till the end of the year or some other milestone.


The basketball usage is by far the most prevalent, so pervasive that in internet searches, it practically floods out all others. I had a really hard time finding resources that did not reference college basketball.

I have found one source defining (but giving no background) one-and-done as:

a business processing philosophy that attempts to handle each incoming task or request only once

I also found a blog entry by a business entrepreneur describing his "One and Done" concept for his company:

The most simple and important thing we can do in our workflows and designs for efficiency is to make sure we only do something once....Do it right the first time…think it through.

I have heard and utilized the expression in casual conversation to simply mean that whatever we are discussing is something to do once, and then never need to do or want to do or be able to do again. It can be used positively, "Thank God that invasive medical procedure was a one and done" or negatively, "Too bad our trip to the tropics will be one and done."

In the article you quote, there is a question on whether the Federal Reserve will make a single change to interest rates, versus several incremental changes over the next few months. The speaker chose to phrase this using the "one and done" idiom.


I'm not into sports, and so I wouldn't know if one-and-done had that usage in the 1970's. But the usage familiar to me from a university environment in the 70's and later distinguished women whose sexual tension fully resolves in a first and single orgasm and then experience a longish refractory period comparable to a male's--or even longer--from women who can experience multiple orgasms in a single arousal cycle.

(So the choice of the term in the contexts cited in other answers might be an entirely separate coinage, which wouldn't be surprising given the simple and obvious rhyme; or it might reflect prior awareness of the term's meaning in the private, "guys/gals talking among themselves" context by the people who introduced it to a public context.)

  • This is a sexist (and to me, immature, derogatory and offensive) classification of women based on sexual performance; nonetheless, if it was an accepted usage of the OP's basketball expression, I think it's probably legitimate to post it. However, it's essential that you provide more information on its usage (and ideally, citing a published example or other evidence), to support that it was indeed an accepted usage, rather than the invention of one isolated group of campus boys. Commented Nov 10, 2018 at 23:36
  • It certainly can be sexist, immature, derogatory, and offensive. I'm not going to defend the maturity and empathy of twenty-somethings in any generation--not in the seventies and a good deal less in the 20-teens. Although I'm a professional writer, I'm not a professional etymologist. Certainly the kind of evidence you ask is desirable, but I'm not in a position to provide it. It's possible you could look at Roth or Jong for presence or absence, but I wouldn't hold my breath. However, there's also an invidious assumption in your comment that more is better and less is worse. Continued...
    – user323727
    Commented Nov 12, 2018 at 4:29
  • I'll go light on the science, since this is a forum about words and not sexology. But being mono- or multiorgasmic is simply a trait, not a performance ranking. When you read about the science of orgasm (I'm married to a clinician in sexual function and have such books lying around the house), you find that it's mostly genetic, not psychological. Problems in relationships arise when one partner thinks the female partner should be multiorgasmic, else it reflects negatively on one or the other's performance. "One-and-done" isn't a sexological term per se, of course, but the distinction is known.
    – user323727
    Commented Nov 12, 2018 at 4:44
  • Problems in relationships arise --> Problems can arise in relationships
    – user323727
    Commented Nov 12, 2018 at 6:35

"Once and done" is what you would say outside of baseball. It means only needing to do something once (one time and you're done.)

For example, you might say something like:

The chicken pox is a once and done disease; it can't be caught twice.

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