What does the idiom "not be one's cup of tea" mean?

Are you using the idiom not be one's cup of tea but not sure about its meaning? Using idioms, which are important elements of spoken and written language, in the right place strengthens your language skills. Examine the meaning of the not be one's cup of tea idiom and the situations in which it is used.

Meaning of "not be one's cup of tea"


The idiom ‘not be one’s cup of tea’ is used to indicate that someone does not like something or does not find it agreeable. In other words, it is usually used to express distaste or dislike for something. The phrase is also used to mean that a certain thing is not within one’s preferences.


This phrase seems to have originated in the United Kingdom, sometime around the late 19th century. The earliest known use of the phrase dates back to 1888, when it was published in Notes and Queries, by an anonymous author. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the phrase was derived from the metaphor of tea, which is a popular beverage in Britain. Tea is seen as something calming and comforting, so it is to be expected that it would be one’s cup of tea if they found it agreeable.


This phrase is most common in spoken English, especially in more casual settings. It is also quite versatile in its use and can be used in a variety of situations. It can be used to describe one’s opinion of a person, place, thing, or activity. It can also be used to express one’s opinion of a particular situation, or even a particular decision.

Example Sentences

  • I don’t think this movie is my cup of tea.
  • Going skydiving isn’t really my cup of tea.
  • I’m afraid that particular style of clothing just isn’t my cup of tea.
  • He’s not really my cup of tea.
  • I’m sorry, that decision just isn’t my cup of tea.

The meanings of the words in the "not be one's cup of tea" idiom

From Shakespeare to Social Media: The Evolution of English Idioms

English idioms have been around for centuries, with many originating from sources like literature, mythology, and everyday life. Shakespeare, for example, coined many phrases that are still used today, such as "break the ice" and "heart of gold." Over time, new idioms have emerged, with social media and popular culture providing rich sources of inspiration. For instance, the phrase "throwing shade" came into use in the 1990s thanks to ball culture, but has since been popularized by social media.


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