Something that might have been fixed,
Talked out or around,
But the whole school had turned out
[A] To watch them settle it.

-- Gregory Djanikian, The fight, writersalmanac.org

Bob will be there? [B] That settles it. I'm not coming. -- OALD

It seems [A] and [B] have the same syntactic constructions. Do they also have the same meanings of ‘settle it’?

2 Answers 2


To settle it means to “bring a matter to a decisive conclusion”

In your first example, there is a quarrel over a girl and traditional schoolboy ”honor“ decrees that they should fight and determine a “winner”. In fact, the boys are not very clear about what it is that they are fighting about, or what the winner will win, or what it is they are going to settle, but whatever it is, the fight is supposed to settle it.

The second example is not so ambiguous. The fact that Bob will be there is decisive for the speaker, and determines, conclusively, that he himself will not attend.


They're similar in meaning but not exactly the same. The usage in your first example is closer to the first definition given by the OALD:

to put an end to an argument or a disagreement

The fight that the poem is about is occurring because of an argument between two boys. The fight is intended to "settle it", i.e. bring the argument to an end.

Whereas the second example is from the OALD's second definition:

to decide or arrange something finally

The speaker is saying that since Bob will be attending some event, the speaker has decided he definitely will not.

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