1. Being or representing the entire or total number, amount, or quantity: All the windows are open. Deal all the cards. See Synonyms at whole.
2. Constituting, being, or representing the total extent or the whole: all Christendom.
3. Being the utmost possible of: argued the case in all seriousness.
4. Every: got into all manner of trouble.
5. Any whatsoever: beyond all doubt.
6. Pennsylvania Consumed; used up; gone: The apples are all.
7. Informal Being more than one: Who all came to the party? See Note at y'all.
The whole of one's fortune, resources, or energy; everything one has: The brave defenders gave their all.
1. The entire or total number, amount, or quantity; totality: All of us are sick. All that I have is yours.
2. Everyone; everything: justice for all.
a. Wholly; completely: a room painted all white.
b. So much: I am all the better for that experience.
c. Used as an intensive: Then he got all mad and left.
2. Each; apiece: a score of five all.
From the beginning; throughout: saw through the disguise all along.
Nearly; almost: all but crying with relief.
1. Tired; exhausted.
2. Games Staking all of one's chips, as in poker.
3. Putting all of one's available resources into an effort: The governor mounted a halfhearted campaign for the presidency but didn't go all in.
all in all
Everything being taken into account: All in all, the criticism seemed fair.
all of Informal
Not more than: a conversation that took all of five minutes.
Of no difference; immaterial: Whether we go out or stay in, it's all one to me.
1. Completely ended or finished: Their marriage is all over.
2. In every part; everywhere: The storm swept across the island and left damage all over.
3. Typical of the person or thing just mentioned: Making wisecracks like that—that's Jim all over.
4. Showing much romantic interest or being in close contact: He was all over her during the slow dance.
5. Persistently or harshly critical or scolding: The coach was all over me about missing practice.
With all one's strength, ability, or resources.
all that Informal
To the degree expected.
Mentally unimpaired or competent.
With everything considered; in all: All told, we won 100 games.
1. And other things of the same type: “The only thing they seemed to have in common was their cowboy gear, ten-gallon hats and all” (Edward Chen).
2. Being included: devoured the peanuts, shells and all.
1. In any way: unable to walk at all.
2. To any extent; whatever: not at all sorry.
be all Informal
To say or utter. Used chiefly in verbal narration: He's all, “What did you do that for?”
Considering everything; all together: In all, it rained for two hours. I bought four hats, in all.
[Middle English al, from Old English eall; see al-3 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
Usage Note: The construction all that is used informally in questions and negative sentences to mean “to the degree expected.” In the late 1960s, the Usage Panel rejected its use, but resistance to all that has waned dramatically. In our 2016 survey, 87 percent of the Panel found the construction acceptable in the sentence The movie is not all that interesting. Some stigma lingers, however; many of the Panelists who accepted this example sentence commented that this use of all that would be much less acceptable in formal writing than in colloquial speech. · Sentences of the form All X's are not Y may be ambiguous. All of the departments did not file a report may mean that some departments did not file, or that none did. The first meaning can be expressed unambiguously by the sentence Not all of the departments filed a report. The second meaning can be more clearly phrased as None of the departments filed a report or All of the departments failed to file a report. The same problem can arise with other universal terms such as every in negated sentences, as in the ambiguous Every department did not file a report. See Usage Note at every.
Word History: In the late 17th and early 18th centuries, groups of immigrants from southwestern Germany, Alsace, and Switzerland settled in Pennsylvania. The groups spoke closely related dialects of German that eventually merged into a new, distinctly American variety of German that came to be known as Pennsylvania Dutch. (The word Dutch in this expression comes from Deitsch, the Pennsylvania German equivalent of Deutsch, the standard German word for “German.” The spelling of the word as Dutch has undoubtedly been influenced by the English word Dutch. English Dutch comes from the Middle Dutch word Dūtsch, meaning “Dutch” or “German,” that is the Dutch equivalent of the German word Deutsch.) Pennsylvania Dutch, which is still spoken in some communities in Pennsylvania today—notably by the Amish—has contributed a number of words to American English, including dunk, hex, smearcase, snollygoster, spritz, and perhaps snickerdoodle. The dialect has also left other traces in the grammar and usage of English in Pennsylvania. For instance, in German, the word alle, literally meaning “all,” can be used idiomatically to mean “all gone, used up, at an end.” The standard German sentence Der Kaffee ist alle (word for word, “The coffee is all”) means “The coffee is all gone” or “The coffee has been used up,” for example. Some Pennsylvanians, too, may say The coffee is all to mean “The coffee is all gone”—the use of the English word all to mean “all gone” reflects the influence of Pennsylvania Dutch and reminds us of the days when many Pennsylvanians were bilingual in English and Pennsylvania Dutch and would switch back and forth between them in their daily lives.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.