all things to all people, be

Idioms & Phrases

all things to all people, be

Satisfy everyone completely, as in The trouble with the governor's campaign is that she is trying to be all things to all people. This proverbial expression is sometimes phrased be all things to all men, but today men is often replaced by people to avoid gender discrimination. The expression originated in Paul's statement (I Corinthians 9:22): "I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some." Today it often appears in a political context, but phrased negatively, as in He wants to be a good school committee member, but he can't be all things to all people.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
Cite This Source
Explore Dictionary.com
Previous Definition: all there
Next Definition: all thumbs
More from Thesaurus.com
Synonyms and Antonyms for all things to all people, be
More from Reference.com
Search for articles containing all things to all people, be
Dictionary.com Word FAQs

Dictionary.com presents 366 FAQs, incorporating some of the frequently asked questions from the past with newer queries.

Copyright © 2014 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature