Make Your Editor Cry: All for Not or All for Knot vs. All for Naught

Make Your Editor Cry:  All for Not or All for Knot vs. All for Naught

I am a man of a particular age. Seasoned, let’s say.

I remember the eldest son of the great World Boxing Heavyweight Champion Maximilian Adelbert “Max” Baer, a man named Max Baer, Jr., portraying the character Jethro Bodine, the dim-witted nephew of Jed Clampett on the television show The Beverly Hillbillies. While Jethro struggled aloud, doing his utmost to calculate simple addition in his head, he would utter phrases such as “Ought plus naught move the dot.”

“Naught” means “nothing” or “null” which is not the same as zero. The phrase all for naught literally means “all for nothing.”

While it may be okay to join an online meeting a few minutes late and put the following sentence into the chat:

Sorry all for not joining on time.

In just about every other circumstance, you want to use the idiom all for naught.

Example:

Though the Pyrrhic victory technically forced the enemy into a temporary retreat, it was all for naught.

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