Plan B – Idiom & Meaning

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

What does plan B mean, and where did it come from? Good question! When it comes to using idioms like this, we often tend to insert them willy-nilly in our speech and writing without actually understanding their meaning. So, let’s take a look at the definition of plan B and how you can use it.

Plan B Meaning

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It’s a really common phrase and expression used to indicate a backup plan or plans in place for a ‘just in case’ kind of situation.

In the military or in business, planners often have a backup plan known as plan B in case the original plan fails or does not meet expectations. The idiom plan B is often used when in fact, no alternative plan is in place. The phrase simply means that an alternative method must be tried. 

Now, there’s also a modern, alternative meaning for ‘plan B’ that rose with the creation of the morning-after pill, which women can safely take after having unprotected sex. She may not have gotten pregnant, but the pill is a ‘plan B’ just in case. People have even coined the phrase as the unofficial name for it.

What’s the Formal Term for What’s Known as ‘Plan B’?

Yes, plan B is often considered less formal or even a slang term, but it’s widely used and accepted in formal situations. However, if you want to use a really formal version of the phrase, you could say “contingency plan.”

Is Plan B Capitalized?

The letter B in plan B is always capitalized, but not the word plan unless it’s in a title, name, or an article heading.

Plan B as an Expression

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While it can be sued in a literal sense or even as the name of a birth control pill, plan B can also be used a passing expression. Like, if something didn’t work and your friend looks at you with a laugh and says, “Time for plan B.” There may not be a backup plan in place, but you both understand what they meant by the expression.

Is Plan B an Idiom?

You bet! Plan B is a common idiom used to describe backup plans or contingency plans for just about any situation.

Other Words for Plan B

  • Backup plan
  • Backup
  • Contingency plan
  • Contingency
  • Alternative plan
  • Alternative
  • Another strategy

Plan B in a Sentence

  • Don’t worry if this doesn’t work; I have a plan B that I think will be even better.
  • Our attempt to take over the company didn’t really work, so now it’s time for plan B.
  • Even our plan B failed, so we need to have a meeting and discuss ideas to move forward with the project.
  • I hope the plan B pill really works because I’m not ready to have a baby.
  • I want a divorce. All I ever was to you was a plan B; I want to be someone’s first choice.

At halftime, our talk with the team was, ‘We either have to fix this or we need to go to Plan B. What do you want to do? (The Arizona Daily Star)

What’s Your Plan B?

And it’s as simple as that. Use the common idiom plan B when describing anything that’s a backup plan, an alternative idea, or when it’s time to rethink what you’re doing. I hope my guide was helpful in explaining everything about the phrase.

Enjoyed reading about this idiom? Check out some others we covered: