noun (usually used with a plural verb)
  1. the probability that something is so, will occur, or is more likely to occur than something else: The odds are that it will rain today.
  2. the ratio of probability that something is so, will occur, or is more likely to occur than something else.
  3. this ratio used as the basis of a bet; the ratio by which the bet of one party to a wager exceeds that of the other, granted by one of two betting opponents to equalize the chances favoring one of them: The odds are two-to-one that it won't rain today.
  4. an equalizing allowance, as that given the weaker person or team in a contest; handicap.
  5. an advantage or degree of superiority on the side of two contending parties; a difference favoring one of two contestants.
  6. an amount or degree by which one thing is better or worse than another.
  1. at odds, at variance; in disagreement: They were usually at odds over political issues.
  2. by all odds, in every respect; by far; undoubtedly: She is by all odds the brightest child in the family.Also by long odds, by odds.

Origin of odds

First recorded in 1490–1500; special use of odd
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for by all odds


pl n
  1. (foll by on or against) the probability, expressed as a ratio, that a certain event will take placethe odds against the outsider are a hundred to one
  2. the amount, expressed as a ratio, by which the wager of one better is greater than that of anotherhe was offering odds of five to one
  3. the likelihood that a certain state of affairs will be found to be sothe odds are that he is drunk
  4. the chances or likelihood of success in a certain undertakingtheir odds were very poor after it rained
  5. an equalizing allowance, esp one given to a weaker side in a contest
  6. the advantage that one contender is judged to have over anotherthe odds are on my team
  7. British a significant difference (esp in the phrase it makes no odds)
  8. at odds
    1. on bad terms
    2. appearing not to correspond or matchthe silvery hair was at odds with her youthful shape
  9. give odds or lay odds to offer a bet with favourable odds
  10. take odds to accept such a bet
  11. over the odds
    1. more than is expected, necessary, etche got two pounds over the odds for this job
    2. unfair or excessive
  12. what's the odds? British informal what difference does it make?
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 by all odds



in wagering sense, found first in Shakespeare ("2 Henry IV," 1597), probably from earlier sense of "amount by which one thing exceeds or falls short of another" (1540s), from odd (q.v.), though the sense evolution is uncertain. Until 19c. treated as a singular, though obviously a plural (cf. news).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with by all odds

by all odds

By far, as in She is by all odds the best player on the team. This idiom uses odds in the sense of “the amount by which one thing excels or exceeds.” [Mid-1800s]


In addition to the idioms beginning with odds

  • odds and ends
  • odds are, the

also see:

  • against all odds
  • at odds
  • by all odds
  • lay odds
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.