Michael Quinion wordseditor at WORLDWIDEWORDS.ORG
Sat Sep 16 16:26:24 UTC 2006

> Here's a new one to me:  "Next to nobody wants higher taxes" (or whatever),
> meaning "Almost nobody."  Where does this come from?

It seems to be of some antiquity, to judge from examples. The OED has one
instance, dated 1863; I've found another from the Atlantic Monthly of the
year after: "We shall soon learn that there is next to nobody who really
favored this thing in the beginning." NewspaperArchive claims two examples
(I haven't checked them) from the previous decade. The OED one appears to
be British; I've found another from a British work, Curiosities of London
Life, by Charles Manby Smith, dated 1853. The idiom sounds dialectal to
me, but not strange: I can remember using it myself.

Michael Quinion
Editor, World Wide Words
E-mail: wordseditor at worldwidewords.org
Web: http://www.worldwidewords.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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