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all talk (and no action)

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Much discussion but no action or results, as in Don't count on Mary's help—she's all talk, or Dave has been saying for months that he'll get a summer job, but he's all talk and no action. This idiom may have begun life as all talk and no cider, which Washington Irving cited as an American proverb in Salmagundi (1807). However, similar sayings antedate it by many years—for example, “The greatest talkers are always the least doers” (John Ray, English Proverbs, 1670).

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“Was” is used for the indicative past tense of “to be,” and “were” is only used for the subjunctive past tense.

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

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