leave no stone unturned

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Make every possible effort, use every possible source or resource. For example, To raise ten thousand dollars to keep the shelter open, we must leave no stone unturned. This expression alludes to an ancient Greek legend about a general who buried a large treasure in his tent when he was defeated in battle. Those seeking the treasure consulted the Oracle of Delphi, who advised them to move every stone. The present form dates from the mid-1500s.

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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.


What does leave no stone unturned mean?

To leave no stone unturned is to look in every possible place when trying to find something (typically within the boundaries of some location).

This can involve physical objects or abstract things, as in Believe me, if you run for office, your opponent will leave no stone unturned trying to find some scandal in your past.

More generally, to leave no stone unturned means to use every available option or to exhaust every possible resource when trying to complete some task or solve some problem, as in Do whatever it takes to fix it—spare no expense and leave no stone unturned.

The idea behind the phrase is that if you were looking for something in a field of stones, you would turn every one over to see if the item was underneath. To leave a stone unturned would be to not turn it over—to leave it where it is without looking underneath. Figuratively speaking, to leave a stone unturned is to fail to look in a location where something could be, or to fail to try a way of completing a task.

Example: I searched the whole house, I left no stone unturned, but I still couldn’t find my keys—because they were in my pocket.

Where does leave no stone unturned come from?

The first records of the phrase leave no stone unturned come from the mid-1500s. The expression references an ancient Greek legend about people trying to find a treasure hidden by a general as his army was being defeated in battle. The treasure hunters consulted the legendary Oracle of Delphi, who told them to look under every stone (implying that the treasure was buried under one of them).

Leave no stone unturned is especially used in the context of finding things, in which case it basically means “look everywhere.” When it’s used in the context of completing a task or solving a problem, it basically means “try everything.”

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What are some other forms related to leave no stone unturned?

  • left no stone unturned (past tense)

What are some synonyms for leave no stone unturned?

What are some words that share a root or word element with leave no stone unturned

What are some words that often get used in discussing leave no stone unturned?

How is leave no stone unturned used in real life?

Leave no stone unturned is most commonly used in the context of finding something that is lost or hidden.

Try using leave no stone unturned!

Is leave no stone unturned used correctly in the following sentence?

I thought I had left no stone unturned, but my son found my missing watch in the one place I didn’t look.

How to use leave no stone unturned in a sentence