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across-the-board General; all-inclusive and comprehensive; treating all groups or all members of a group equally and without exception. The term refers to the board used to display the betting odds and totals at race tracks. An across-the-board bet is a combination wager in which the same amount of money is bet on a single horse to win, place, or show, thereby ensuring a winning ticket if the horse places at all. The original sporting use of the term dates from about 1935; the more general usage dates from about 1950.
all along the line At every point; in every particular or detail; entirely, completely. Common variants include all down the line and right down the line. What the original line was, if indeed one did exist, is uncertain. The expression does, however, seem to presuppose some sort of actual line, be it a line of soldiers going into battle, a geographical line of some kind, or any of the other sundry types of lines that exist. Charles Haddon Spurgeon used the phrase in The Treasury of David (1877).
bag and baggage With all one’s personal belongings; completely, totally. This phrase was military in origin and applied to the possessions of an army as a whole (baggage), and of each individual soldier (bag). The original expression to march out [with] bag and baggage was used in a positive sense to mean to make an honorable retreat, to depart without having suffered any loss of property. The equivalent French expression was vie et bagues sauves. The term is now used disparagingly, however, to underscore the absolute nature of one’s departure; it implies quite the opposite of an honorable retreat. Used in the original military sense in 1525 by John Bourchier Berners in his translation of Froissart’s Chronicles, the phrase did not appear in its more contemporary sense until the early 17th century in Thomas Middleton’s The Witch.
every man Jack Every single person without exception. The precise origin of this phrase is unknown. A plausible but not entirely convincing theory traces the source of every man Jack to the early form everych one ‘every one,’ which in the 16th and 17th centuries was often written as every chone. By corruption, every chone became every John, and since Jack is the familiar form of John, the phrase was corrupted once again giving rise to the current form every man Jack. Thackeray used the phrase in Vanity Fair.
Sir Pitt had numbered every “Man Jack” of them.
Thackeray’s use of quotation marks and capitalization of man casts doubt on the theory of the origin of every man Jack presented above.
everything but the kitchen sink Everything imaginable, everything under the sun; also everything but the kitchen stove. Both expressions date from the first half of this century, although everything but the kitchen stove predated everything but the kitchen sink by about twenty years according to the OED citations. In his Dictionary of Forces’ Slang (1948) Partridge says that kitchen sink was “used only in the phrase indicating intense bombardment—They chucked everything they’d got at us, except, or including the kitchen sink.’” In other words, every possible kind of missile, including kitchen sinks.
from Dan to Beersheba From one outermost extreme or limit to the other; everywhere. This expression is based on a Biblical reference:
Then all the children of Israel went out, and the congregation was gathered together as one man, from Dan to Beersheba. (Judges 20:1)
Judges 19 and 20 discusses the reasons that all of the Israelite nations gathered to attack the Benjamites. Dan was the northernmost city in Israel, Beersheba the southernmost. Thus, from Dan to Beersheba implied the entire kingdom. In more contemporary usage, this expression is often employed by political writers to describe the extent of a person or issue’s popularity.
from soup to nuts From A to Z, from first to last; everything, usually in the phrase everything from soup to nuts. This American slang expression alludes to an elaborate multicourse meal in which soup is served as the first course and nuts as the last.
Today’s drug stores may have everything from soup to nuts, but they can’t boast fascinating remedies like Gambler’s Luck, Virgin’s Milk, … or Come-Follow-Me-Boy. (New Orleans Times-Picayune Magazine, April, 1950)
from stem to stern Completely; entirely; from one end to the other. On ships the stem is the forward part of the vessel, and the stern is the rear. The phrase maintains common figurative use.
I had him stripped and washed from stem to stern in a tub of warm soapsuds. (Elizabeth Drinker, Journal, 1794)
ragtag and bobtail See STATUS.
right and left From all directions at once, everywhere you look, on all sides; every time, repeatedly. This phrase implying inclusiveness or ubiquity dates from the beginning of the 14th century. Webster’s Third cites both current usages:
troops looting right and left. (A. N. Dragnich)
social events … have been rained out right and left. (Springfield Daily News)
run the gamut To include the full range of possibilities; to extend over a broad spectrum; to embrace extremes and all intermediate degrees of intensity. The gamut is the whole series of notes recognized by musicians. The term was used figuratively by the 18th century; Hogarth referred to “the painter’s gamut.”
The stocks were running … up and down the gamut from $1 to $700 a share. (Harper’s Magazine, 1883)
The vitriolic wit of Dorothy Parker once described an actress’s performance as “running the gamut of emotion from A to B.”
Tom, Dick, and Harry Men, or people in general; everyone, everyone and his uncle. The phrase, usually preceded by every, has been popular in America since 1815, when it appeared in The Farmer’s Almanack. Tom, Dick, and Harry are all very common men’s first names and so are used in this expression to represent average, run-of-the-mill people. Although first used only in reference to men, the phrase is currently applied to everyone, male or female.
the whole kit and caboodle The whole lot, the whole bunch; the entire outfit; also the whole kit and boodle, the whole kit and biling, the whole kit, the whole boodle, the whole caboodle. The word caboodle or boodle in this expression is probably a corruption of the Dutch boedel ‘property, possessions, household goods.’ The phrase has been in use since 1861.
the whole shooting match Everyone and everything, the whole shebang; the entire matter or affair, the whole deal, the whole ball of wax.
You are not the whole shooting match, but a good share of it. (Springfield [Mass.] Weekly Republican, March, 1906)
A literal shooting match is a contest or competition in marksmanship, but how it gave rise to this popular American slang expression is unclear.