all over

Idioms & Phrases

all over

  1. Everywhere. The phrase may be used alone, as in I've looked all over for that book, or The very thought of poison ivy makes me itch all over. In addition it can be used as a preposition, meaning "throughout," as in The news spread all over town. [Early 1600s] Also see far and wide.

  2. In all respects, as in He is his Aunt Mary all over. Charles Lamb had this usage in a letter (1799) about a poem: "The last lines ... are Burns all over." [Early 1700s]

  3. Also, all over again. Again from the beginning. For example, They're going to play the piece all over, or Do you mean you're starting all over again? [Mid-1500s]

  4. Also, all over with. Quite finished, completed, as in By the time I arrived the game was all over, or Now that she passed the test, her problems are all over with. This phrase uses over in the sense of "finished," a usage dating from the 1300s. Also see all over but the shouting; have it (all over), def. 4.

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