an X to end all Xes

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Tue Nov 16 20:28:07 UTC 2010

I don't see this familiar idiom in OED, where "to end all" means "that
surpass(es) all others, perhaps definitively."


2009 Jack Murnighan _Beowulf on the Beach_ [N.Y.: Three Rivers Press] 196:
_Moby Dick_ . . . The sea monster to end all sea monsters: a ten-ton,
sixty-foot sperm whale, white as a baby's butt and just as explosive.

I well recall the idiom from my childhood. It sounds perfectly natural to
me, though certainly informal.

SWAG: It was suggested by the World War I propaganda phrase, "a war to end
all wars," misinterpreted by the following generation.  It surpassed all
other wars.  For a few years.


"If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."

The American Dialect Society -

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