Idioms

    above all, most important of all; principally: charity above all.

Origin of above

before 900; Middle English above(n) (Cf. aboon), Old English abufan, onbufan (a-1, on + bufan above (cognate with Dutch boven), equivalent to b(e) by1 + ufan, cognate with Old Frisian uva, Old Saxon oban(a), Old High German obana, German oben, Old Norse ofan above; akin to over); see up; cf. about for formation

Usage note

Above as an adjective ( the above data ) or as a noun ( study the above ) referring to what has been mentioned earlier in a piece of writing has long been standard. A few critics object to these uses in general writing, believing that they are more appropriate in business or technical contexts; they occur, however, in all kinds of edited writing.

all

[awl]

adjective

the whole of (used in referring to quantity, extent, or duration): all the cake; all the way; all year.
the whole number of (used in referring to individuals or particulars, taken collectively): all students.
the greatest possible (used in referring to quality or degree): with all due respect; with all speed.
every: all kinds; all sorts.
any; any whatever: beyond all doubt.
nothing but; only: The coat is all wool.
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.
Chiefly Pennsylvania German. all gone; consumed; finished: The pie is all.

pronoun

the whole quantity or amount: He ate all of the peanuts. All are gone.
the whole number; every one: all of us.
everything: Is that all you want to say? All is lost.

noun

one's whole interest, energy, or property: to give one's all; to lose one's all.
(often initial capital letter) the entire universe.

adverb

wholly; entirely; completely: all alone.
only; exclusively: He spent his income all on pleasure.
each; apiece: The score was one all.
Archaic. even; just.

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)

Synonyms for all

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.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019


British Dictionary definitions for above all

above

preposition

on top of or higher than; overthe sky above the earth
greater than in quantity or degreeabove average in weight
superior to or prior toto place honour above wealth
too honourable or high-minded forabove petty gossiping
too respected for; beyondabove suspicion; above reproach
too difficult to be understood bythe talk was above me
louder or higher than (other noise)I heard her call above the radio
in preference toI love you above all others
north ofwhich town lies just above London?
upstream from
above all most of all; especially
above and beyond in addition to
above oneself presumptuous or conceited

adverb

in or to a higher placethe sky above
  1. in a previous place (in something written)
  2. (in combination)the above-mentioned clause
higher in rank or position
in or concerned with heavenseek the things that are above

noun

the above something that is above or previously mentioned

adjective

mentioned or appearing in a previous place (in something written)

Word Origin for above

Old English abufan, from a- on + bufan above

all

determiner

  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
the greatest possiblein all earnestness
any whateverto lose all hope of recovery; beyond all doubt
above all most of all; especially
after all See after (def. 11)
all along all the time
all but almost; nearlyall but dead
all of no less or smaller thanshe's all of thirteen years
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
See all in
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
all that or that (usually used with a negative) informal (intensifier)she's not all that intelligent
all the (foll by a comparative adjective or adverb) so much (more or less) than otherwisewe must work all the faster now
all too definitely but regrettablyit's all too true
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
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)
as all that as one might expect or hopeshe's not as pretty as all that, but she has personality
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
be all for informal to be strongly in favour of
be all that informal, mainly US to be exceptionally good, talented, or attractive
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
for all that in spite of thathe was a nice man for all that
in all altogetherthere were five of them in all

adverb

(in scores of games) apiece; eachthe score at half time was three all
completelyall alone
be all … informal used for emphasis when introducing direct speech or nonverbal communicationhe was all, 'I'm not doing that'

noun

(preceded by my, your, his, etc) (one's) complete effort or interestto give your all; you are my all
totality or whole
Related formsRelated prefixes: pan-, panto-

Word Origin for all

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 above all

above

adv.

Old English abufan, earlier onbufan, from on (see on) + bufan "over," compound of be "by" (see by) + ufan "over/high," from Proto-Germanic *ufan-, *uban- (cf. Old Saxon, Old High German oban, German oben), from PIE root *upo (see up (adv.)). Meaning "in addition" first corded 1590s.

all

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 above all

above all

More than anything else, as in A winter hike calls for good equipment, but above all it requires careful planning. This phrase first appears in William Langland's Piers Ploughman (1377), in which the narrator exhorts readers to love the Lord God above all. Also see first and last.

above

In addition to the idioms beginning with above

  • above all
  • above and beyond
  • above suspicion
  • above the law

also see:

  • all (none) of the above
  • cut above
  • head and shoulders above
  • over and above

all

In addition to the idioms beginning with all

  • all along
  • all along the line
  • all and sundry
  • all at once
  • all at sea
  • all better
  • all but
  • all cylinders
  • all ears
  • all else being equal
  • alley cat
  • all eyes
  • all for
  • all for the best
  • all gone
  • all hours
  • all in a day's work
  • all in all
  • all in, be
  • all in good time
  • all in one piece
  • all joking aside
  • all kinds of
  • all of
  • all of a sudden
  • all of the above
  • all one
  • all out
  • all outdoors, big as
  • all over
  • all over but the shouting
  • all over one
  • all over the place
  • all over with
  • all present and accounted for
  • all right
  • all right for you
  • all right with one
  • all roads lead to Rome
  • all set
  • all sewed up
  • all shook up
  • all sorts
  • all systems go
  • all talk (and no action)
  • all that
  • all that glitters is not gold
  • all the
  • all the best
  • all the better
  • all the rage
  • all there
  • all the same
  • all the thing
  • all the time
  • all the way
  • all the worse
  • all things to all people, be
  • all thumbs
  • all told
  • all to the good
  • all up
  • all very well
  • all well and good
  • all wet
  • all wool and a yard wide
  • all work and no play (makes Jack a dull boy)
  • all year round

also see:

  • above all
  • after all
  • against all odds
  • as all getout
  • at all
  • at all costs
  • be-all and end-all
  • beat all
  • by all accounts
  • by all means
  • by all odds
  • cap it all
  • fall all over
  • firing on all cylinders
  • first of all
  • for all
  • for all I care
  • for all I know
  • for all one's worth
  • for all that
  • get away (from it all)
  • get one's act (it all) together
  • go all the way
  • have all one's buttons
  • have it all over someone
  • have it both ways (all)
  • hit on all cylinders
  • hold all the aces
  • in a (all of a) dither
  • in all
  • in all good conscience
  • in all one's born days
  • in all probability
  • (all) in the same boat
  • it's all downhill from here
  • it's all over with
  • it takes all sorts
  • jump all over
  • know all the answers
  • know-it-all
  • laugh all the way to the bank
  • least of all
  • let it all hang out
  • not all it's cracked up to be
  • not at all
  • not for all the tea in china
  • no time at all
  • of all the nerve
  • of all things
  • once and for all
  • one and all
  • pull out all the stops
  • put all one's eggs in one basket
  • seen one, seen them all
  • till all hours
  • to all intents and purposes
  • (all) to the good
  • turn out all right
  • walk all over
  • warts and all
  • when all's said and done
  • with all due respect
  • with all one's heart
  • you can't win them all
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.