What Does All Things to All People Mean?

All Things to All People Meaning

Definition: Something that pleases or appeals to everyone; to attempt to please everyone.

The idiom all things to all people refers to things that please everyone, or to someone who one tries to do things that will please everyone.

This idiom may also be written as all things to all men.

This idiom can be used in two ways. The first is to describe something that makes everyone happy.

For example, someone might say the new park in town is all things to all people. This usage is less common in everyday English.

be all things to all menThe more common use of this idiom describes someone who attempts to please everyone. When used in this way, it is typically preceded by the verb be and carries a negative connotation, although this is not always true.

When used negatively, it expresses that one cannot possibly please everyone despite how hard one tries to do so. No matter the connotation, the meaning remains the same.

Examples of All Things to All People

Meaning of being all things to all peopleThis idiom is commonly used in English, especially in politics, government, or business.

This sample conversation between two friends shows how native speakers might use this phrase in everyday speech.

Patricia: I’m busy all the time. Between trying to be a good mother and wife, exercising and eating healthy, going to work, and going to school, I’m worn out.

Devin: Stop trying to be all things to all people. Take some time to focus on yourself and your needs.

More Examples

  • “Being able to focus on a handful of programs you can do really well and be competitive is better than trying to be all things to all people.” – USA Today
  • He should not try to be all things to all people, but he must reveal a man fully ready to lead the nation for all occasions. – NY Post

Summary

The English idiom all things to all people is used to refer to things that appeal to everyone, or to someone who tries to please to everyone.

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