• synonyms


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  1. the whole of (used in referring to quantity, extent, or duration): all the cake; all the way; all year.
  2. the whole number of (used in referring to individuals or particulars, taken collectively): all students.
  3. the greatest possible (used in referring to quality or degree): with all due respect; with all speed.
  4. every: all kinds; all sorts.
  5. any; any whatever: beyond all doubt.
  6. nothing but; only: The coat is all wool.
  7. dominated by or as if by the conspicuous possession or use of a particular feature: The colt was all legs. They were all ears, listening attentively to everything she said.
  8. Chiefly Pennsylvania German. all gone; consumed; finished: The pie is all.
  1. the whole quantity or amount: He ate all of the peanuts. All are gone.
  2. the whole number; every one: all of us.
  3. everything: Is that all you want to say? All is lost.
  1. one's whole interest, energy, or property: to give one's all; to lose one's all.
  2. (often initial capital letter) the entire universe.
  1. wholly; entirely; completely: all alone.
  2. only; exclusively: He spent his income all on pleasure.
  3. each; apiece: The score was one all.
  4. Archaic. even; just.
  1. above all, before everything else; chiefly: Above all, the little girl wanted a piano.
  2. after all, in spite of the circumstances; notwithstanding: He came in time after all.
  3. all at once. once(def 9).
  4. all but, almost; very nearly: These batteries are all but dead.
  5. all in, Northern and Western U.S. very tired; exhausted: We were all in at the end of the day.
  6. all in all,
    1. everything considered; in general: All in all, her health is greatly improved.
    2. altogether: There were twelve absentees all in all.
    3. everything; everything regarded as important: Painting became his all in all.
  7. all in hand, Printing, Journalism. (of the copy for typesetting a particular article, book, issue, etc.) in the possession of the compositor.
  8. all in the wind, Nautical. too close to the wind.
  9. all out, with all available means or effort: We went all out to win the war.
  10. all over,
    1. finished; done; ended.
    2. everywhere; in every part.
    3. in every respect; typically.
  11. all standing, Nautical.
    1. in such a way and so suddenly that sails or engines are still set to propel a vessel forward: The ship ran aground all standing.
    2. fully clothed: The crew turned in all standing.
    3. fully equipped, as a vessel.
  12. all that, remarkably; entirely; decidedly (used in negative constructions): It's not all that different from your other house.
  13. all the better, more advantageous; so much the better: If the sun shines it will be all the better for our trip.
  14. all there, Informal. mentally competent; not insane or feeble-minded: Some of his farfetched ideas made us suspect that he wasn't all there.
  15. all the same. same(def 9).
  16. all told. told(def 2).
  17. all up,
    1. Printing, Journalism.(of copy) completely set in type.
    2. Informal.with no vestige of hope remaining: It's all up with George—they've caught him.
  18. and all, together with every other associated or connected attribute, object, or circumstance: What with the snow and all, we may be a little late.
  19. at all,
    1. in the slightest degree: I wasn't surprised at all.
    2. for any reason: Why bother at all?
    3. in any way: no offense at all.
  20. for all (that), in spite of; notwithstanding: For all that, it was a good year.
  21. in all, all included; all together: a hundred guests in all.
  22. once and for all, for the last time; finally: The case was settled once and for all when the appeal was denied.

Origin of all

before 900; Middle English al, plural alle; Old English eal(l); cognate with Gothic alls, Old Norse allr, Old Frisian, Dutch, Middle Low German al, Old Saxon, Old High German al(l) (German all); if < *ol-no-, equivalent to Welsh oll and akin to Old Irish uile < *ol-io-; cf. almighty
Can be confusedall awl (see usage note at the current entry)


See more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
2. every one of, each of. 14. totally, utterly, fully.

Usage note

Expressions like all the farther and all the higher occur chiefly in informal speech: This is all the farther the bus goes. That's all the higher she can jump. Elsewhere as far as and as high as are generally used: This is as far as the bus goes. That's as high as she can jump.
Although some object to the inclusion of of in such phrases as all of the students and all of the contracts and prefer to omit it, the construction is entirely standard.
See also already, alright, altogether.


  1. at one time in the past; formerly: I was a farmer once; a once powerful nation.
  2. a single time: We ate there just once. We go to a movie once a week.
  3. even a single time; at any time; ever: If the facts once become known, it will be just too bad.
  4. by a single step, degree, or grade: a cousin once removed.
  1. former; having at one time been: the once and future king.
  1. if or when at any time; if ever.
  2. whenever; as soon as: Once you're finished, you can leave.
  1. a single occasion; one time only: Once is enough.
  1. all at once,
    1. simultaneously: The children were running, screaming, and throwing things all at once.
    2. suddenly: All at once the rain came down.
  2. at once,
    1. at the same time; simultaneously: Don't all speak at once.
    2. immediately; promptly: Tell him to come at once!
  3. once and again, repeatedly: He has been told once and again not to slam the door.
  4. once and for all, decisively; finally: Let's settle this problem once and for all.Also once for all.
  5. once in a while, at intervals; occasionally: She stops in to see us once in a while.
  6. once or twice, a very few times; infrequently: I've seen her in the elevator once or twice.
  7. once upon a time, at some unspecified past time, especially a long time ago: Once upon a time, in a faraway land, there lived a prince and princess.

Origin of once

before 1150; Middle English ones, Old English ānes, orig. genitive of ān one; replacing Middle English enes, Old English ǣnes once, equivalent to ǣne once (orig. instrumental of ān) + -es adv. suffix; see -s1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
British Dictionary definitions for once and for all


  1. one time; on one occasion or in one case
  2. at some past time; formerlyI could speak French once
  3. by one step or degree (of relationship)a cousin once removed
  4. (in conditional clauses, negatives, etc) ever; at allif you once forget it
  5. multiplied by one
  6. once and away
    1. conclusively
    2. occasionally
  7. once and for all conclusively; for the last time
  8. once in a while occasionally; now and then
  9. once or twice or once and again a few times
  10. once upon a time used to begin fairy tales and children's stories
  1. (subordinating) as soon as; if ever or wheneveronce you begin, you'll enjoy it
  1. one occasion or caseyou may do it, this once
  2. all at once
    1. suddenly or without warning
    2. simultaneously
  3. at once
    1. immediately
    2. simultaneously
  4. for once this time, if (or but) at no other time

Word Origin

C12 ones, ānes, adverbial genitive of on, ān one


    1. the whole quantity or amount of; totality of; every one of a classall the rice; all men are mortal
    2. (as pronoun; functioning as sing or plural)all of it is nice; all are welcome
    3. (in combination with a noun used as a modifier)an all-ticket match; an all-amateur tournament; an all-night sitting
  1. the greatest possiblein all earnestness
  2. any whateverto lose all hope of recovery; beyond all doubt
  3. above all most of all; especially
  4. after all See after (def. 11)
  5. all along all the time
  6. all but almost; nearlyall but dead
  7. all of no less or smaller thanshe's all of thirteen years
  8. all over
    1. finished; at an endthe affair is all over between us
    2. over the whole area (of something); everywhere (in, on, etc)all over England
    3. typically; representatively (in the phrase that's me (you, him, us, them, etc) all over)Also (Irish): all out
    4. unduly effusive towards
    5. sportin a dominant position over
  9. See all in
  10. all in all
    1. everything consideredall in all, it was a great success
    2. the object of one's attention or interestyou are my all in all
  11. all that or that (usually used with a negative) informal (intensifier)she's not all that intelligent
  12. all the (foll by a comparative adjective or adverb) so much (more or less) than otherwisewe must work all the faster now
  13. all too definitely but regrettablyit's all too true
  14. and all
    1. British informalas well; tooand you can take that smile off your face and all
    2. Southern Africana parenthetical filler phrase used at the end of a statement to make a sl ight pause in speaking
  15. and all that informal
    1. and similar or associated things; et ceteracoffee, tea, and all that will be served in the garden
    2. used as a filler or to make what precedes more vague: in this sense, it often occurs with concessive forceshe was sweet and pretty and all that, but I still didn't like her
    3. See that (def. 4)
  16. as all that as one might expect or hopeshe's not as pretty as all that, but she has personality
  17. at all
    1. (used with a negative or in a question)in any way whatsoever or to any extent or degreeI didn't know that at all
    2. even so; anywayI'm surprised you came at all
  18. be all for informal to be strongly in favour of
  19. be all that informal, mainly US to be exceptionally good, talented, or attractive
  20. for all
    1. in so far as; to the extent thatfor all anyone knows, he was a baron
    2. notwithstandingfor all my pushing, I still couldn't move it
  21. for all that in spite of thathe was a nice man for all that
  22. in all altogetherthere were five of them in all
  1. (in scores of games) apiece; eachthe score at half time was three all
  2. completelyall alone
  3. be all … informal used for emphasis when introducing direct speech or nonverbal communicationhe was all, 'I'm not doing that'
  1. (preceded by my, your, his, etc) (one's) complete effort or interestto give your all; you are my all
  2. totality or whole
Related formsRelated prefixes: pan-, panto-

Word Origin

Old English eall; related to Old High German al, Old Norse allr, Gothic alls all
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for once and for all



c.1200, anes, from ane "one" (see one ) + adverbial genitive. Replaced Old English æne. Spelling changed as pronunciation shifted from two syllables to one after c.1300. Pronunciation change to "wuns" parallels that of one. As an emphatic, meaning "once and for all," it is attested from c.1300, but this now is regarded as a Pennsylvania German dialect formation. Meaning "in a past time" (but not necessarily just one time) is from mid-13c.

Once upon a time as the beginning of a story is recorded from 1590s. At once originally (early 13c.) meant "simultaneously," later "in one company" (c.1300), and preserved the sense of "one" in the word; the phrase typically appeared as one word, atones; the modern meaning "immediately" is attested from 1530s.


Old English eall "all, every, entire," from Proto-Germanic *alnaz (cf. Old Frisian, Old High German al, Old Norse allr, Gothic alls), with no certain connection outside Germanic.

Combinations with all meaning "wholly, without limit" were common in Old English (e.g. eall-halig "all-holy," eall-mihtig "all-mighty") and the method continued to form new compound words throughout the history of English. First record of all out "to one's full powers" is 1880. All-terrain vehicle first recorded 1968. All clear as a signal of "no danger" is recorded from 1902. All right, indicative of approval, is attested from 1953.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with once and for all

once and for all

As a settled matter, finally, permanently, as in Once and for all, we're not hiring that organist again, or We've settled that question once and for all. This expression is in effect an abbreviation for “one time and for all time.” [Late 1400s]


In addition to the idioms beginning with all

also see:


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.