What Does From Soup to Nuts Mean?

From Soup to Nuts Meaning

Definition: From start to finish.

Origin of From Soup to Nuts

This is an informal, American expression derived from the food served in a full course dinner. Traditionally, the first course consists of appetizers or soup. The final course consists of sweets, fruits, or nuts. Nowadays it is common for other types of desserts to be served, rather than nuts.

The idea behind using food served during the first and last part of a meal to represent the whole thing or from start to finish is not unique to America. Other expressions include from eggs to apples, from ancient Rome, or from potage to cheese, in England. The exact phrasing soup to nuts appears to date back only to the early 20th century, but these other expressions are much older.

Other similar expressions include from A to Z, the whole shebang, and from beginning to end, and The Alpha and Omega.

Examples of From Soup to Nuts

soup to nuts originThe first dialogue shows a brother and sister discussing the sister’s very bad day.

Luke: Ella, are you okay? You look awful!

Ella: I had the worst day today!

Luke: I’m sorry your afternoon was bad.

Ella: Not just my afternoon. My whole day was terrible, from soup to nuts. I woke up late, forgot my wallet, got pulled over and given a ticket for driving without my driver’s license, and then I got locked out of my office building!

Luke: I’m sorry to hear that!

what does the phrase soup to nuts meanThe second example shows two friends discussing a novel during their book club meeting.

Ray: I loved the book. I thought it had an interesting plot and wonderful character development.

Ricardo: I respectfully disagree. I thought the whole book was utter nonsense, from soup to nuts. It made no sense whatsoever. The premise was boring and the conclusion didn’t resolve a thing.

More Examples

This excerpt is from an article about a law firm that is possibly relocating.

  • The 630,000-square-foot building will be completely renovated “from soup to nuts,” said Bill Elder, managing director of the city for RXR, who declined to discuss anything about the transaction itself. –New York Post

This excerpt is from an article that reviews a restaurant. This uses the idiom more literally, to talk about the food.

  • That means selecting any items from the menu of steaks, chops, lobsters and pasta — from soup to nuts — and any bottle of wine and drinks, all on the house. –New York Post

Summary

The phrase from soup to nuts means the whole thing or from beginning to end.