all out: Idiom Meaning and Origin

What does ‘all out’ mean?

The idiom "all out" means to put forth maximum effort or to do something to the greatest extent possible.

It implies giving everything one has and not holding back.

Idiom Explorer

Unleashing Complete Effort

The idioms "pull out all the stops" and "balls-out" are related to the idiom "all out" in that they all convey the notion of giving maximum effort or going to great lengths to achieve something.

"Pull out all the stops" is a phrase that originated from the world of organ-playing. In pipe organs, the stops control the airflow and therefore the sound produced by the instrument. When all the stops are pulled out, the organ produces a powerful and full-bodied sound. This idiom, therefore, came to be used metaphorically to describe a situation where someone is using all the available resources and exerting their full effort to achieve a desired outcome.

"Balls-out" is a somewhat more colloquial and informal expression that also means to go all out or to do something with maximum effort. The phrase is believed to have originated from aviation, specifically from the levers used to control the throttle on an aircraft engine. The levers on older aircraft engines were often shaped like balls, and pushing them all the way forward to their maximum position required a significant amount of strength and commitment. Thus, going balls-out came to represent going all out or giving one's maximum effort.

Now, let's explore some examples of how the idiom "all out" can be used in different contexts.

She pursued her dreams wholeheartedly, with great effort.

In the world of sports, "all out" is commonly used to describe athletes or teams who are giving their all and pushing themselves to their limits. For example, a soccer player might be described as playing all out if they are running tirelessly, giving their full effort in every play, and leaving everything on the field. Similarly, a basketball team might be praised for playing all out if they are aggressively defending, diving for loose balls, and leaving no stone unturned in their pursuit of victory.

In business, the idiom "all out" is often used to describe taking decisive and comprehensive action. For instance, a company might be said to be going all out in launching a new product if they are investing substantial resources, conducting extensive market research, and implementing a robust marketing strategy to ensure its success. The phrase conveys the idea of a wholehearted and committed approach to achieving a goal, leaving no stone unturned in the pursuit of success.

When it comes to personal relationships, "all out" can signify an intense and unwavering commitment. For example, someone might say they are going all out in their relationship if they are fully dedicated and committed to their partner, putting their partner's needs and happiness above their own, and not holding back their love and affection. The phrase conveys a sense of devotion, passion, and wholeheartedness in the context of interpersonal connections.

Now, let's dig a little deeper into the etymology of the idiom "all out." As mentioned earlier, the phrase is a combination of the words "all" and "out." "All" refers to the entirety or complete amount of something, while "out" signifies full or complete expression. When these words are combined, they create a concise and meaningful expression that encapsulates the idea of putting forth one's full effort or commitment.

The idiomatic phrase "all out" is widely understood and used among English speakers. Its simplicity and clarity make it accessible and easy to incorporate into everyday conversation. The phrase resonates with individuals who strive for excellence and unwavering commitment and serves as a reminder to give nothing less than their maximum effort in whatever they do.

Example usage

Examples of how the idiom all out can be used in a sentence:

  • He went all out on his birthday party, renting a venue, hiring a live band, and inviting all his friends.
  • In the final game, the team went all out and gave their best performance to win the championship.
  • She decided to go all out and pursue her dreams of becoming an actress, quitting her job and moving to Hollywood.

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