Idioms and Expressions - All

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The following English idioms and expressions use the word 'all'. Each idiom or expression has a definition and three example sentences to help your understanding of these common idiomatic expressions with 'all'. 

All-nighter

Definition: do something (for instance a study session) that lasts all night

  • We pulled an all-nighter to get ready for the exam.
  • The graduation party was an all-nighter.
  • I'm afraid I'm going to have to pull an all-nighter to get the report ready for tomorrow.

All over something

Definition: very fond of something

  • He's all over the latest fashions.
  • Peter's all over antique furniture.
  • I'm all over that author's works.

All right (!)

Definition: Yes, okay, fine

  • That's all right by me!
  • All right! I got an A+ on my term paper.
  • I think he's all right with the changes we foresee. 

All shook up

Definition: extremely excited, worried, or disturbed about something

  • He's all shook up about his mother's illness.
  • Wow! I'm all shook up about Alice.
  • I don't want you to get all shook up over the news.

All that and then some

Definition: even more than what has been mentioned

  • He did all that and then some to get the new job.
  • Yes, that's right. All that and then some!
  • I think he'll do all that and then some in order to get the company back on its feet. 

All the way (with go)

Definition: do something completely

  • He's going all the way for the scholarship.
  • We went all the way to California on our vacation.
  • I think you can go all the way to finals in this competition.

Dash it all!

Definition: expression used when very upset

  • Dash it all! I didn't do very well.
  • Dash it all! She can't come this weekend.
  • I'm afraid the position didn't work out. Dash it all!

For all I know

Definition: based on what I know (usually expressing displeasure)

  • For all I know, he'll come and win the prize.
  • They've decided to hire Jack for all I know.
  • For all he knows, she wants to get married

Free for all

Definition: crazy, non-restricted activity (generally a fight)

  • It was a free for all! Everyone went crazy!
  • They stepped in to break up the free for all.
  • Black Friday is generally a free for all that I try to avoid. 

Have it all together

Definition: be very poised, successful

  • He has it all together. The house, the wife, the kids, the great job - everything!
  • I was very impressed with the candidate. She seemed to have it all together.
  • I hope the new recruit has it all together. We need a team player. 

Hold all the aces

Definition: have all the advantages

  • Unfortunately, Tom holds all the aces right now. You'll have to do what he says.
  • I'm holding all the aces so I can do whatever I want.
  • I'm afraid this is a situation in which you don't hold all the aces.

Know all the angles

Definition: be very clever about something

  • Jack knows all the angles. Be careful!
  • The salesman knew all the angles, and by the end of our talk I had bought a new computer!
  • If you need some help with math talk to Peter. He knows all the angles. 

Know it all

Definition: someone who seems to know everything and lets everybody know that he / she knows everything, used in a negative sense

  • I know you think you are a know it all, but you don't know everything. 
  • I hate Tom. He's such a know it all in class.
  • Don't think you know it all. 

Not all there

Definition: not intelligent, not completely focused on an activity

  • I'm afraid Peter is not all there. He needs some help badly.
  • Unfortunately, I was not all there and lost the final match.
  • Be quiet. The boss is not all there today. Give him plenty of room.

Of all the nerve!

Definition: expression of anger at someone's behavior

  • Of all the nerve! Did you see how that woman treated me?
  • Of all the nerve! She took my seat!
  • You didn't buy him a present?! Of all the nerve! That guy has always treated you well. 

Once and for all

Definition: finally (usually putting an end to something)

  • I'm going to stop his behavior once and for all!
  • Let's get this over once and for all.
  • I'd like to review the grammar one more time. Hopefully, this will make it clear once and for all. 

Pull out all the stops

Definition: make every possible effort to do something

  • He pulled out all the stops on the exam.
  • We're going to pull out all the stops on our presentation.
  • I'd like to throw a huge party that pulls out all the stops. 

You can't win them all.

Definition: expression of acceptance after a loss or disappointment

  • Well, you can't win them all. Let's go home.
  • You did your best. You can't win them all
  • I tried to get the job, but I didn't. You can't win them all.