phrases, sayings, proverbs and idioms at

The meaning and origin of the expression: All in all

All in all

What's the meaning of the phrase 'All in all'?

All things having been taken into account.

What's the origin of the phrase 'All in all'?

'All in all', when first coined, was a reference to the omnipresent and all-pervasive nature of the Christian God, that is, 'all things in all places'. The phrase was used explicitly with that meaning in The Great Bible, 1539, in 1 Corinthians 15:28:

That God maye be all in all.

More recently, the usage of the term is usually with the meaning 'when all things have been considered'. This began life in the 19th century; for example, in this piece from The Edinburgh Advertiser, July, 1829:

We saw the second night of "Peter Wilkins," a piece, taking it all in all, we never saw got up better in or out of London.

Both ancient and modern versions of 'all in all' have been used in the past few years in popular songs. The 'God' meaning was used in Dennis Jernigan's 1991 song You are my all in all:

You are my strength when I am weak
You are the treasure that I seek
You are my all in all
Seeking You as a precious jewel
Lord, to give up I'd be a fool
You are my all in all

Pink Floyd also used the term, with its more usual contemporary meaning of 'all things having been taken into account', in Another Brick in the Wall Part 2, 1979:

We don't need no education
We don't need no thought control
No dark sarcasm in the classroom
Teachers leave them kids alone
Hey! Teachers! Leave them kids alone!
All in all it's just another brick in the wall.
All in all you're just another brick in the wall.

Gary Martin - the author of the website.

By Gary Martin

Gary Martin is a writer and researcher on the origins of phrases and the creator of the Phrase Finder website. Over the past 26 years more than 700 million of his pages have been downloaded by readers. He is one of the most popular and trusted sources of information on phrases and idioms.

Browse phrases beginning with:
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T UV W XYZ Full List