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bell, book, and candle Thoroughly, completely; formally, with all the trappings. The phrase derives from the Roman Catholic ritual of excommunication, no longer practised, consisting of: 1) formal declaration of a person as anathema, after which the book containing prescribed readings was closed; 2) extinguishment of a candle, symbolic of the person’s expulsion from the community of believers into which he had been received when a candle was lighted at his baptism; and 3) the tolling of a bell, to signalize his spiritual death.
go over with a fine-tooth comb To examine thoroughly, to observe every detail or aspect of a thing; to be on the lookout for some problem, defect, or irregularity in order to improve or perfect. This expression derives from the act of brushing with a comb having narrow, closely set teeth, such as the type used in looking for fleas on a cat or dog. Figurative use of the expression, heard by the late 19th century, remains current.
We’ve gone through the remains of the helicopter with a fine-tooth comb, but there wasn’t much left. (A. Firth, Tall, Balding, Thirty-Five, 1966)
hook, line, and sinker Entirely, completely; without reservations. The allusion is to a fish so hungry that it swallows not only the bait but the fishhook, the lead weight (sinker), and some of the fishing line as well. The expression appeared as early as 1838 in T. W. Barnes’ Memoir of T. Weed. It most often describes the naïveté or gullibility of an accepting, unquestioning attitude, and implies that a person has been easily duped.
leave no stone unturned To spare no effort; to exhaust every expedient to accomplish one’s aim or goal. This expression was the advice purportedly given by the Oracle of Delphi to Polycrates the Theban when he asked where he could find the treasure believed to have been hidden by Mardonius, a Persian general whom he had defeated at the Battle of Plataea (477 B.C.). Upon following this advice, Polycrates located the treasure beneath the stone floor of Mardonius’ tent.
We shall not be negligent; no stone will be left unturned. (Edmund Burke, Correspondence, 1791)
lock, stock, and barrel Completely, entirely; the whole thing. The allusion is to the three main components of a gun which together comprise essentially the entire weapon. The phrase was used in Lawrie Todd by John Gait in 1830.
neck and crop Entirely, completely, altogether; bodily. Though there is disagreement as to whether the crop of the expression is crop ‘craw, gullet’ or crop ‘rounded head or top,’ it matters little. The concept is clear, no matter the direction in which the neck is extended to indicate entirety. Common in the 19th century, the phrase is less so today.
Chuck them neck and crop … down a dark staircase. (Michael Scott, Tom Cringle’s Log, 1833)
root and branch Utterly, completely, without exception or qualification; inside and outside; lock, stock, and barrel. This expression was popularized by the London Petition of 1640 which advocated the abolition of episcopal government.
That the said government, with all its dependencies, roots, and branches, be abolished. (Petition in John Rushworth’s Historical Collections, 1640)
When writing this petition, the “root-and-branch men,”advocates of the all-out, total abolition of Episcopacy, probably had in mind the following Biblical quotation from Malachi 4:1:
And the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.
Root and branch is most commonly heard in the expression destroy root and branch.
to the hilt Completely, fully, entirely, thoroughly, to the maximum extent or degree; also up to the hilt. When a sword or dagger is thrust into an object up to its hilt or handle, the blade is completely covered and can go in no farther. The phrase dates from the late 17th century.
to the teeth Entirely, fully, completely; often in the phrase armed to the teeth. Conjecture that the phrase dates from the days when pirates roamed the Spanish Main carrying a pistol or sword in each hand and a knife between their teeth appears dubious because of a 1380 OED citation.
touch all bases To include either in action or in speech all important facets of a matter; to leave no stone unturned, to be thorough. This American slang expression comes from baseball where a player is required to touch each base successively in order to score a run.
|Noun||1.||thoroughness - conscientiousness in performing all aspects of a task|