all things to all people, be


Satisfy everyone completely, as in The trouble with the governor's campaign is that she is trying to be all things to all people. This proverbial expression is sometimes phrased be all things to all men, but today men is often replaced by people to avoid gender discrimination. The expression originated in Paul's statement (I Corinthians 9:22): “I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.” Today it often appears in a political context, but phrased negatively, as in He wants to be a good school committee member, but he can't be all things to all people.

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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.