the world and his wife

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the world and his wife pl (plural only)

  1. (hyperbolic, chiefly Britain, Australia) Everyone; a great crowd; a jumbled assortment of people.
    The world and his wife were at the opening – we could barely move.
    • 1957 July 4, General Secretary, The Textile Institute, A Guide to Careers: No. 32: Textile Technology, New Scientist, page 42,
      The world and his wife are the customers for whom the textile industry supplies the greatest necessity next to food, and some of the greatest luxuries.
    • 1986 April, Jessica Berens, Scots on the Rocks, Spin, page 29,
      The punk explosion of 1977 prompted the world and his wife to pick up guitars, just as they had grabbed washboards in the skiffle era 20 years before.
    • 1972 (1905), Natsume Sōseki, Aiko Ito, Graeme Wilson (translators), I Am a Cat (吾輩は猫である), Volume 2, 2002, combined edition, page 187,
      [] But they have to consider what the world and his wife will say, and when dealing with the world one simply cannot be too careful.”
    • 1998, Kasey Michaels, Indiscreet, 2000, page 229,
      “Why not just hire a crier to go around the city, telling all the world and his wife — all the world and our wives — we had our turns riding Connie to hounds?”
    • 2001, advertisement, quoted in 2001, Guy Cook, The Discourse of Advertising, page 112,
      Gripping stuff, Subaru four-wheel drive. The world and his wife′s favourite in fact.