uses of "all"

Victoria Neufeldt vneufeldt at MERRIAM-WEBSTER.COM
Wed Oct 19 17:39:07 UTC 2005

Surely "all" in "all packed" simply means "completely."  (Just like
"all" in the preceding examples "all clogged up." "all wrong," and
"all well again.")   This is a standard usage, as in "I'm all packed
and ready to go."  Any exasperation has to come from elsewhere in the
question; specifically, "Don't you see ..."  And "all" in "all
nicey-nicey" is just an intensifier; the scorn, exasperation, or
whatever, lies in "nicey-nicey."

I agree with you, Jonathan, that nuances are often impossible to
explain in a dictionary.  For one thing, any truly complete
explanation would often have to be so long that nobody would
understand it or even care by the time they got to the end.  Probably
the best way to deal with such subtleties of language in a dictionary
is by gathering a number of closely related usages under a general
explanation and then choosing good example phrases or sentences.


Victoria Neufeldt
727 9th Street East
Saskatoon, Sask.
S7H 0M6
Tel: 306-955-8910

> -----Original Message-----
> From: American Dialect Society
> [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU]On Behalf
> Of Jonathan Lighter
> Sent: Wednesday, October 19, 2005 7:45 AM
> Subject: Re: uses of "all"
> Barbara, your semantic analysis resembles and complements
> mine.  I believe that I use all these nuances in speech,
> including the "exasperative."
> It may be impossible for any dictionary to notice such nice
> distinctions, especially diachronically.  But a reader's
> natural loss of sensitivity to such nuances is one of the
> factors that make older texts harder and harder to read as
> one goes back in time.
> JL
> Poster: Barbara H Hudson
> Subject: uses of "all"
> (Other examples from later works includeded: all nice and neat, all
> screwed up, all clogged up, all creaky, all wrong, all well
> again, and
> all shriveled up")
> But I found that "all" was also used to emphasize feelings of
> exasperation, indignation or scorn. All of these examples come from
> later works:
> Don't you see her bags all packed over there near you?
> (Marshall, Praisesong 22)
> The short stocky fellow with the hair to his navel is all
> grinning. (Walker Everyday use 2369-23-70)
> Real bangle bracelets, all on her arm (Bolton 90)
> So one night be was by my place all drunk up and snoring
> (Maylor, The Women 58)
> The girls were all nicey-nicey to each other (Clair 78)
> Barbara Hill Hudson
> ______________________________
> Barbara Hill Hudson
> Professor Emerita
> Indiana University of Pennsylvania
> bhhudson at

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