Make Your Editor Cry: All and all vs. All in all

Make Your Editor Cry:  All and all vs. All in all

All in all” is a traditional emphatically redundant idiom which can mean “all things considered,” or “after all,” or “nevertheless.” People unfamiliar with the traditional wording sometimes change it to “all and all,” but that erroneous phrase is, in short, not a thing.

All in all” is used for showing that you are considering every aspect of something.

Example:

All in all, I think it has been a very successful
conference.

All in all is also used for “on the whole” or “generally.”

Example:

All in all, things might have been worse.

The incorrect phrase “all and all,” is likely a conflation of the traditional idiom with the expression “and all” where that expression commonly replaces “etc.” in common English usage.

Examples:

I think it has been a very successful
conference, and
all
.
Things might have been worse, and
all
.

The phrase “all in all” is an emphatically redundant variant of the shorter phrase, “in all,” which has roughly the same meaning as the redundant idiom. In fact, for writers who value concision (and just may be closet anglophiles), “in all” may well make a good replacement for “all in all.”

Example:

In all, I think it has been a very successful
conference.
In all, things might have been worse.

In summary, the idiom meaning “everything being taken into account” is “all in all,” with the preposition “in” not “all and all,” with the conjunction “and.”

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