all things to all people

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English[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Holy Bible (King James Version), 1 Corinthians 9:22: "To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some."

Pronunciation[edit]

  • (file)

Noun[edit]

all things to all people (often construed as singular)

  1. (idiomatic) Someone or something that entirely satisfies the expectations of everyone, no matter how diverse and conflicting those expectations may be.
    • 1851, Sir John William Kaye, History of the War in Afghanistan, Volume 2, p. 382 (Google preview):
      It was obviously his policy to appear all things to all people. He could not venture to take any decided course.
    • 1967, Barbara J. Horn, M.S.N.Ed., Aequanimitas, University of Michigan Medical School, p. 170 (Google preview):
      No longer can we be all things to all people! We must decide which path to follow — are we to be physicians assistants, coordinators, supervisors, or skilled practitioners of nursing. The choice is ours!
    • 1990 April 9, Paul Gray, "Grapevine: Lech Walesa and Tadeusz Mazowiecki," Time (retrieved 21 Feb 2017):
      Most Poles realize that Solidarity cannot go on being all things to all people: trade union, political party, shaper of the country's future.
    • 1995 January 29, Todd S. Purdum, "The Nation: Underwear and All; Dignifying the Presidency," New York Times (retrieved 21 Feb 2017):
      Mr. Clinton is often accused of wanting to be all things to all people, but that is a classic occupational hazard of his job.
    • 2005 Feb. 26, Joanna Moorhead, "Why not leave school at 16?," Independent (UK) (retrieved 21 Feb 2017):
      "There's also a problem about schools being expected to be all things to all people."