be-all and end-all, the

Idioms & Phrases

be-all and end-all, the

The most important element or purpose, as in Buying a house became the be-all and end-all for the newlyweds. Shakespeare used this idiom in Macheth (1:6), where Macbeth muses that "this blow might be the be-all and the end-all" for his replacing Duncan as king. [Late 1500s]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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