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I often hear the phrase "It's on" in conversations, particularly in situations filled with anger or confrontation.

Could someone explain what this phrase means in such contexts? Is it always used to indicate readiness for a challenge or conflict, or can it have other interpretations?

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    I recall a song entitled "It's On" from the 1960s, lyrics here, music here. This doesn't answer your question, but it does show that the phrase has been current for over 50 years. Jan 5 at 18:22

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In the context in which the speaker means "The fight is on", it would naturally indicate readiness to fight.

This kind of phrase is more likely in "staged" showdowns, rather than genuine confrontations. I imagine it being used in a "dance-off" video, or by schoolkids emulating this kind of showdown, rather than in "real" fights.

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  • it is most definitely used in real fights and/or confrontations. usually when the intention is on next visual encounter, there will be a physical confrontation, which for whatever reason will not occur at this exact moment. also often used as "it's on sight", or "on sight" when it is being postponed until next visual encounter. meaning, we will not fight this very second, but next time i see you - no words will be exchanged, i will initiate a physical fight with you. Jan 4 at 15:27
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    TBH i've never been in a real fight or brawl (thank goodness) Have you? This just seems a little to "Hollywood". I suspect that real fights don't have people announcing their intentions, they are much more "punch grapple, injury" than "It's on".
    – James K
    Jan 4 at 17:45
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    I have. Usually when they are not near each other, and the aggressor is about to make his way to the other person. Or like I said when the fight is being postponed, an example: they argue on the bus where there are lots of people, the person who wants to take action does not deem the time to be the best option (maybe he reasons it very likely he'll get arrested). And so he says "it's on!. wait till i catch you. it's on sight!", as bystanders push him away from the confrontation - or as he exits the bus. Jan 4 at 18:22
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    That makes sence. It is used for "grand-standing".
    – James K
    Jan 4 at 18:30
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    I get what you mean by saying it's usually used for "staged" showdowns, and not "real" fights. But I could imagine it being used for controlled physical fights such as boxing or wrestling matches. Jan 5 at 18:44
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In situations filled with anger or confrontation, It's on likely indicates readiness for a challenge or conflict, physical or otherwise:

It's on; I'll see you in court.

Wiktionary lists a similar usage:

(colloquial) A conflict is starting.

Used as an announcement of a (usually physical) fight between two increasingly hostile groups, typically stated by one of the parties to the fight.

In other context, the phrase can be used to confirm, for example, a social gathering.

It's on; I'll meet you at the restaurant.

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In the context of "situations filled with anger or confrontation", the expression "It's On" signifies that the speaker is accepting a challenge, either explicitly presented by someone else or implicitly inferred from a confrontational situation.

For example, in an explicit case, it could involve a direct challenge, like a competition or confrontation, perhaps even a physical fight. Imagine someone challenging the speaker to a game of Tetris: "I'll show you who is king of Tetris!" To which the response might be, "Oh, really? It's on!" This expression conveys the speaker's readiness to accept the challenge.

In an implicit case, the phrase might be triggered by unexpected or confrontational behavior. Picture a scenario where a colleague behaves unexpectedly, and the speaker interprets it as a challenge. The response might be, "Oh. That's how it is now? It's on!," indicating their readiness to engage in whatever situation has arisen.

However, I would like to mention that I have only encountered this expression in fiction.

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