give one's all

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English[edit]

Verb[edit]

give one's all

  1. To make the utmost effort; to contribute, using all of one's abilities and resources.
    • 1868, Louisa May Alcott, Little Women, ch. 4:
      "I'd go myself, if I was any use. As I ain't, I give my boys, and give 'em free." He spoke so cheerfully, looked so sincere, and seemed so glad to give his all, that I was ashamed of myself.
    • 1896, Mark Twain, Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc, ch. 35:
      And it is well; her act being proportioned to the dignity of one who carries in her head and heart riches which outvalue any that any King could add, though he gave his all.
    • 1936 June 1, "Crime: Black Legion," Time:
      After swearing to support God and the Constitution, to give his all in any "war" against Catholics, Jews, Negroes, aliens and Communists, he paid $7 for a robe, 10¢ monthly dues, bought himself a gun, became a member in good standing.
    • 1990 Jan. 22, Peter B. Flint, "Barbara Stanwyck, Actress, Dead at 82," New York Times (retrieved 17 June 2011):
      [S]he was unique in not requiring rehearsals because she "gave her all the first time she tried a scene."
  2. (idiomatic, euphemistic) To lose one's life while making the utmost effort with full commitment.
    • 1929 April 10, "Plans for War Mothers Pilgrimage Started," Rochester Evening Journal and the Post Express, p. 26 (retrieved 18 June 2011):
      The Cemeterial Division . . . has taken up the huge task of establishing contact with the mothers or widows of the 30,000 American soldiers who gave their all and whose bodies rest in graves across the sea.
    • 2005 Aug. 4, Kareem Fahim, "Sniper Kills New York Police Officer in Iraq ," New York Times (retrieved 17 June 2011):
      Police officers expressed shock at the news of their fellow officer's death. "He gave his all; he literally gave his all," said Officer Edward Looney.

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