[Ads-l] when all is said 1865 > when all is said and done

Barretts Mail mail.barretts at GMAIL.COM
Thu Nov 10 22:20:04 UTC 2016

1. In “O Pioneers!” (1913, 2003 ed. pub. by Barnes & Noble Books), Willa Cather writes (p. 15):

But when all was said, he had come up from the sea himself, had built up a proud little business with no capital but his own skill and foresight, and had proved himself a man.

The Oxford Dictionaries (http://bit.ly/2eG7Eed <https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/when_all_is_said_and_done>) has “when all is said and done”, examples all in the present tense.

Wiktionary (http://bit.ly/2eG98Fg <http://bit.ly/2eG98Fg>) also has “when all is said and done” with one example in the present tense.

Macmillan Dictionary (http://bit.ly/2emVlZ0 <http://www.macmillandictionary.com/dictionary/british/when-all-is-said-and-done>) also has only the “and done” version, but it does allow for the past tense.

2. Google Books has this expression “History of France” written by Jules Michelet and translated by G.H. Smith (http://bit.ly/2g1J2la <http://bit.ly/2g1J2la>). It appears to have been published in French in 1845 and then published in English in either 1862 (http://bit.ly/2foCMQV <http://bit.ly/2foCMQV>) or 1882 (http://bit.ly/2foAwt0 <http://bit.ly/2foAwt0>).

He might have replied that when all was said, he had hardly cut off any but those who had ceased to live. 

The “Living Age” by Littel was a periodical that originally ran from 1844 to 1922 (http://bit.ly/2eGe9xB <http://bit.ly/2eGe9xB>), and it appears that it is volume six that has this expression, in which case it is probably older than the Smith translation (http://bit.ly/2fhL5AI <http://bit.ly/2fhL5AI>):

He looked with a favorable eye upon the primroses that lighted up the hedgesides, and thought them really pretty; thought that, when all was said, there might really be some use in flowers.

3. The earliest clear dated citation I found in Google Books is 1865 in “Half a Million of Money” by Amelia B. Edwards (http://bit.ly/2fG6GBc <http://bit.ly/2fG6GBc>). It was published serially and without direct credit in “All the Year Round” which was edited by Charles Dickens. This citation also has “it was said, and done” in seemingly a non-idiomatic sense (http://bit.ly/2fhOTld <http://bit.ly/2fhOTld>):

He remembered, also, how he sat looking at her hands as they rested, lightly clasped together, on the volume in her lap — how white and slender they showed against the purple binding — and how, when all was said, he longed to take them in his own, and kiss them once at parting. Well ; it was said, and done, and over now—all over!

Benjamin Barrett
Formerly of Seattle, WA
The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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