By All Means Meaning
There is also the expression by no means, which means certainly not.
Origin of By All Means
This expression first appeared in the 1500s. It is a set phrase, which means that its structure doesn’t vary. Therefore, people never say by all mean or by any means when they mean absolutely. (By any means necessary is a phrase of its.) By all means adds emphasis to the speaker’s point.
People often use this to emphasize that they truly mean what they say. It also is a polite way to encourage someone to take advantage of an offer without feeling guilty about it.
For example, imagine if one friend invites another to come over, and the invitee asks, “Are you sure?” The inviter could say, “By all means!”
Examples of By All Means
In the dialogue below, two friends are discussing a loan.
Tina: I can’t believe I got fired. It couldn’t have come at a worse time. I don’t even have enough money to pay my rent.
Keanu: Don’t worry. You’re so talented that I know you’ll find another job soon. And I can lend you money for your rent this month.
Tina: No, I couldn’t let you do that.
Keanu: Please, take the money. I’m happy to do it. And you’d do the same for me if our positions were reversed.
Keanu: By all means! Pay me back whenever you want.
In this example, one friend is asking another for help over the phone.
Jonah: Hey Tatiana! What’s up?
Tatiana: I’m so sorry to bother you, but the Internet just stopped working at my house. Apparently the whole neighborhood had an outage. I am on a deadline and need to finish this project. Is it possible for me to come over and finish it at your house, using your Wi-Fi?
Jonah: By all means! Come over whenever you’d like!
Tatiana: Thank you so much!
This excerpt is from an article about a bill that could raise the cost of electricity for schools. The man in the quote below uses the idiom to emphasize that he will comply with a decision.
- George P. Bush, commissioner of the General Land Office, said his agency was transparent last year “in soliciting the best offer that we could, so we’re comfortable with our selected vendor. But if the Legislature in their infinite wisdom want to eliminate the program, we’ll by all means operate by those confines.” –Houston Chronicle
The second example is from a horoscope. The writer uses the expression to give extra encouragement to people with the astrological sign Gemini to try something new.
- Do something different today because you are restless for adventure. By all means, travel if you can. But at least, be a tourist in your own city or go someplace you’ve never been before. A new store. An ethnic restaurant. A different park. Live it up! –Chicago Sun Times
The idiom by all means means absolutely.