Been there, done that


When was the first time a well-known word or phrase was used in print? explores the history and origins of famous people and places, and of popular phrases, companies,
brand names, products and ideas, along with familiar words and sayings.

For the origins of the phrase been there, done that you can thank the Love Boat.

More particularly, you can thank Cruise Director Julie McCoy, who was with the show from its early days.

Ms. McCoy was played by the stylish actress Lauren Tewes.

As Cruise Director, she arranged romantic getaways for ship’s guests who were inevitably terminally seriously lonely, or seriously tempted by the fruits of another. Usually, though, there was a happy ending for all.

Ms. Lewes’ own real life story line included a divorce, and when asked by a reporter whether she might marry again any time soon, her response was the now-classic been there, done that. Here’s the actual FirstMention from the February 22, 1982 Gettysburg Times.

The article describes this as a common Australian expression, but a search of sources Down Under doesn’t turn up any uses of the phrase until after its 1982 FirstMention. Other word geeks…er…reseachers…have looked as well, with similar results.

In the interests of full disclosure, though, I need to report a BTDT finding from (drumroll, please), 1842.

However, the text, taken from The Covenant at Charlestown, reads “…that wrongs had been there done, that rights had been there violated…”

Doesn’t count!

But Ms. Tewes, we are curious. Did you really pick up BTDT in Australia? Inquiring minds want to know. If you happen across this page, please drop me a line at the address below, and fill me in.


Our FirstMention research is carried out in many sources, including historical newspaper archives, online family history records, state archives, and old books.

Know of an earlier FirstMention? Drop us a line at