What does the idiom "all the same" mean?

The phrase all the same is often used in English, but what does this idiom mean? When idioms are used in the right situations, they strengthen communication and enrich the language. You can communicate more effectively by learning the meaning of all the same.

Meaning of "all the same"


The idiom 'all the same' has two distinct meanings. The first meaning is that two things are the same despite their differences, usually when the difference is minor. For example, if two people order the same type of food from a restaurant but one person orders it with extra cheese and the other orders it without, they could say 'it's all the same.' The other meaning of 'all the same' is that one thing happens repeatedly despite different circumstances, often used in negative contexts. For example, if someone was having trouble on their job and said 'no matter what I do, it's all the same,' they would mean that they have tried changing different aspects of their job but they keep having the same problems.


The origins of the phrase 'all the same' can be traced to the early 1500s, when the phrase appeared in various literature. It is likely that the phrase had a similar meaning then as it does now, although there is no definitive answer. Another phrase with a similar meaning, 'same difference', appeared a few centuries later in the late 1800s, suggesting that the phrase has been in use for quite some time.


The idiom 'all the same' is commonly used in everyday conversations and is an easy phrase to remember and use. It can be used to express both positive and negative sentiments, depending on the context in which it is used. For example, if someone is trying to explain that despite their differences, two things are the same, they could say 'it's all the same.' On the other hand, if someone is expressing their frustration with something and feel that they have no control over it, they could say 'it's all the same no matter what I do.'

Example Sentences

  • I don't care if the color is different, it's all the same.
  • No matter what I do, it's all the same.
  • I'm not picky, it's all the same to me.

The meanings of the words in the "all the same" idiom

The Global Spread of English Idioms

As English has become a global language, its idioms have spread far beyond the borders of the UK and USA. For instance, the idiom "beat around the bush" has equivalents in many other languages, such as "tourner autour du pot" in French and "dar vueltas al asunto" in Spanish. Meanwhile, other idioms have been adapted for local contexts, such as the Russian idiom "?? ???? ???????" (ne svoya rubashka), which translates to "not one's own shirt," meaning to be in an uncomfortable or unfamiliar situation.


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