I've encountered the phrase "what it do" in various contexts, and I'm trying to understand its meaning and how it's used in conversation.

Could someone explain the significance of this phrase and its origins?

I want to add an example sentence in which a person used this phrase for his friend: 'What it do, baby?

  • 4
    You're going to have to provide some of those contexts. To me, it's not grammatical & not an idiom. It might be slang, but not something I've seen in common use. Jan 4 at 14:09
  • Just added an example. @DoneWithThis. Jan 4 at 14:21
  • Your "example" tells us nothing. Who said it? In what circumstances? Was it real or fiction? Where in the world was it? What was their relationship that he called the other person "baby"? Were they displaying strong emotion? What had just happened or been said. I can't answer your question, because I have never heard the phrase. If your "example" gave some context, I might be able to guess the meaning.
    – Colin Fine
    Jan 4 at 15:21
  • My example meme is here: knowyourmeme.com/memes/kawhi-leonards-what-it-do-baby. @ColinFine Jan 4 at 16:30
  • It says this person is known for his 'odd social behaviour'. It's not at all clear what he meant by this remark. Jan 4 at 16:48

2 Answers 2


"What it do?" is a slang term used as a friendly greeting, so it means something similar to "What's up?" or "What's happening?" or "How's it going?" (slang.org, Rap Dictionary)

According to Urban Dictionary (which isn't entirely reliable but there are highly-rated answers for this phrase) it originates among African Americans in the area of Oakland, California; it may also be common among Hispanics, who live near there in large numbers.

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    @ImanMohammadi Note: If you're not actually a member of these communities, it might be a bad idea to try to use this phrase. It would be perfectly fine to substitute an informal phrase that has broader usage, like "What's up." Jan 4 at 14:40

In addition to Stuart F's answer--which I agree with--I'd like to point out that I've often seen variations of this phrase that have suggestive connotations. For instance, "What those hips do" would be an invitation for the other person to show off their hip movements, for instance by doing sexy dance moves.

I'm not from the community that originated this phrase, so I don't know if that same implication would be there for just "What it do". But the possibility is strong enough that I would be very cautious about writing "What it do, baby" as something said to a friend (rather than used as a come-on).

Along the same lines, I would repeat Andy Bonner's caution: this is a phrase that comes from the English of certain minority groups who experience a lot of social discrimination. Using their language--if you don't use it fluently and appropriately--can be seen as either making fun of them or appropriating their culture. Since you're a non-native speaker, people would probably forgive you, but it could very easily be seen as cringe at the least.

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    I was definitely thinking of cultural appropriation, but another reason to use a broader colloquialism is simply that I opened up this question thinking "What on earth? I've never heard that!" Jan 4 at 15:55
  • @AndyBonner Yeah, that too :)
    – Tiercelet
    Jan 4 at 15:56

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