When you say "I had it coming", does it always mean "I caused it to happen to me"? Can it also mean in an appropriate context "it just happened to me"?

Also, does it always have to be "coming" and not base form "come" like "I had it come"?

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    It means "I deserved it" - where "it" is always something bad, and it's your own fault that it's happening to you. – FumbleFingers Nov 28 '12 at 13:22

To have something coming is an idiom meaning that you deserved something. E.g.,

My wife left me yesterday. I had it coming because I had an affair with her sister, and she found out about it.

  • Yes, but only when "you deserved it" means "it was your fault". You wouldn't normally say "I got top marks in the exam. I had it coming because I'd been studying really hard all year". – FumbleFingers Nov 28 '12 at 14:14
  • I think it can be used both positively and negatively, but I agree that it usually has a strong negative connotation and means "I had some bad karma". – user21497 Nov 28 '12 at 14:39
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    I agree that it's unusual, but it's not surprising to me as an American speaker. People talk about actors & actresses who finally get the Oscar they deserve & have deserved for the last 10 years. My example sentence is much more typical of how the idiom's used & what it usually means. – user21497 Nov 28 '12 at 14:54
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    'Well, she's finally got an Oscar. She can't say she didn't have it coming to her.' I don't think so. – Barrie England Nov 28 '12 at 16:13
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    When you have something coming, it means you deserved it, but when you have another thing coming, well, I think that means something altogether different. 8^) – J.R. Nov 28 '12 at 16:50

Online dictionaries can also be used to look up phrases. The ODO's note for had it coming reads thus:

have it coming (to one)
informal be due for retribution on account of something bad that one has done:
his uppity sister-in-law had it coming to her

It's a rather ... karmic expression.

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