Nearby words

  1. stoop ball,
  2. stoop labor,
  3. stoop to,
  4. stoor,
  5. stoozing,
  6. stop and frisk,
  7. stop at nothing,
  8. stop bath,
  9. stop bead,
  10. stop by


    pull out all the stops,
    1. to use every means available.
    2. to express, do, or carry out something without reservation.

Origin of stop

before 1000; Middle English stoppen (v.), Old English -stoppian (in forstoppian to stop up); cognate with Dutch, Low German stoppen, German stopfen; all ≪ Vulgar Latin *stuppāre to plug with oakum, derivative of Latin stuppa coarse hemp or flax < Greek stýppē

Related formsstop·less, adjectivestop·less·ness, nounmul·ti·stop, adjective

Synonym study

3. Stop, arrest, check, halt imply causing a cessation of movement or progress (literal or figurative). Stop is the general term for the idea: to stop a clock. Arrest usually refers to stopping by imposing a sudden and complete restraint: to arrest development. Check implies bringing about an abrupt, partial, or temporary stop: to check a trotting horse. To halt means to make a temporary stop, especially one resulting from a command: to halt a company of soldiers. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for pull out all the stops


verb stops, stopping or stopped

to cease from doing or being (something); discontinuestop talking
to cause (something moving) to halt or (of something moving) to come to a haltto stop a car; the car stopped
(tr) to prevent the continuance or completion ofto stop a show
(tr often foll by from) to prevent or restrainto stop George from fighting
(tr) to keep backto stop supplies to the navy
(tr) to intercept or hinder in transitto stop a letter
(tr often foll by up) to block or plug, esp so as to closeto stop up a pipe
(tr often foll by up) to fill a hole or opening into stop up a wall
(tr) to staunch or stemto stop a wound
(tr) to instruct a bank not to honour (a cheque)
(tr) to deduct (money) from pay
(tr) British to provide with punctuation
(tr) boxing to beat (an opponent) either by a knockout or a technical knockout
(tr) informal to receive (a blow, hit, etc)
(intr) to stay or restwe stopped at the Robinsons' for three nights
(tr) rare to defeat, beat, or kill
(tr) music
  1. to alter the vibrating length of (a string on a violin, guitar, etc) by pressing down on it at some point with the finger
  2. to alter the vibrating length of an air column in a wind instrument by closing (a finger hole, etc)
  3. to produce (a note) in this manner
(tr) to place a hand inside (the bell of a French horn) to alter the tone colour and pitch or play (a note) on a French horn in such a manner
bridge to have a protecting card or winner in (a suit in which one's opponents are strong)
stop at nothing to be prepared to do anything; be unscrupulous or ruthless


an arrest of movement or progress
the act of stopping or the state of being stopped
a place where something halts or pausesa bus stop
a stay in or as if in the course of a journey
the act or an instance of blocking or obstructing
a plug or stopper
a block, screw, or other device or object that prevents, limits, or terminates the motion of a mechanism or moving part
British a punctuation mark, esp a full stop
Also called: stop thrust fencing a counterthrust made without a parry in the hope that one's blade will touch before one's opponent's blade
  1. the act of stopping the string, finger hole, etc, of an instrument
  2. a set of organ pipes or harpsichord strings that may be allowed to sound as a group by muffling or silencing all other such sets
  3. a knob, lever, or handle on an organ, etc, that is operated to allow sets of pipes to sound
  4. an analogous device on a harpsichord or other instrument with variable registers, such as an electrophonic instrument
pull out all the stops
  1. to play at full volume
  2. to spare no effort
Australian a stud on a football boot
the angle between the forehead and muzzle of a dog or cat, regarded as a point in breeding
nautical a short length of line or small stuff used as a tie, esp for a furled sail
Also called: stop consonant phonetics any of a class of consonants articulated by first making a complete closure at some point of the vocal tract and then releasing it abruptly with audible plosion. Stops include the labials (p, b), the alveolars or dentals (t, d), the velars (k, g)Compare continuant
Also called: f-stop photog
  1. a setting of the aperture of a camera lens, calibrated to the corresponding f-number
  2. another name for diaphragm (def. 4)
a block or carving used to complete the end of a moulding
Also called: stopper bridge a protecting card or winner in a suit in which one's opponents are strong

Derived Formsstoppable, adjective

Word Origin for stop

C14: from Old English stoppian (unattested), as in forstoppian to plug the ear, ultimately from Late Latin stuppāre to stop with a tow, from Latin stuppa tow, from Greek stuppē

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 pull out all the stops
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with pull out all the stops

pull out all the stops

Use all the resources or force at one's disposal, as in The police pulled out all the stops to find the thief. This term comes from organ-playing, where it means “bring into play every rank of pipes,” thereby creating the fullest possible sound. It has been used figuratively since about 1860.


In addition to the idioms beginning with stop

  • stop at nothing
  • stop by
  • stop cold
  • stop in
  • stop off
  • stop payment
  • stop short
  • stop someone's clock
  • stop the clock
  • stop up

also see:

  • buck stops here
  • pull out all the stops
  • put an end (a stop) to
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.