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What is the Meaning of the “Karma is a Bitch!” Phrase?

Karma is specifically a principle of Hinduism and Buddhism that concerns the idea of “you get what you give.”

Cecilia Gigliotti
Cecilia Gigliotti

You may have heard karma referred to as a bitch. And while it may seem harsh to apply such a historically maligned term to the principle of tempted fate, the actual meaning is not nearly so damning. Let’s take a look at its origin and evolution of usage.

Karma vs. payback

Karma is specifically a principle of Hinduism and Buddhism that concerns the idea of “you get what you give.” That is, the energy you put out into the world and into your interactions with others is the same sort of energy that will ultimately return to you. If you are kind and generous, you will be rewarded with kindness and generosity — and if you are cruel and unforgiving, you can expect to be shown cruelty and a lack of forgiveness.

The wider world equates karma with payback, although payback has a darker connotation. It is more revenge-oriented; there isn’t usually such a thing as “positive” payback.

So why is karma a bitch? Not because there’s anything essentially wrong with or evil about karma. The term “bitch” here merely suggests that karma is impartial and equally judgmental in its assessment of all human behavior. It won’t go easy on you if you fill your life with negative energy. In short, it will give you what you deserve, be it bad or good.

How to use it

Even if karma isn’t inherently bad, people tend to reserve the phrase for instances of negative consequences. So if you see your coworker who has a track record of speeding get pulled over one day, you might comment to another coworker, “Well, karma’s a bitch.” Likewise, a serial heartbreaker who is abruptly dumped by their latest partner will probably hear some version of “karma is a bitch.”

Examples of using “Karma is a bitch” phrase

Venom (2018)
Bob's Burgers
Riverdale (TV Series 2017– )
Idioms & expressionsEnglish

Cecilia Gigliotti

I have extensive experience writing in a variety of genres, from literary novels to music reviews to academic articles. I appreciate the power of words.


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