At all costs and at any cost

At all costs and at any cost are two versions of the same idiom. We will examine the meaning of the idioms at all costs and at any cost, where they came from, and some examples of their idiomatic usage in sentences.

At all costs and at any cost are two idioms that describe a situation in which the speaker is willing to do anything to attain a goal. No matter how big the effort, no matter what the speaker may sacrifice, no matter the price, the speaker is willing to do whatever it takes to achieve something. The phrases at all costs and at any cost came into use in the mid-1800s. Interestingly, the word cost in these two phrases may be an artifact of a definition of cost that has gone out of style. An early definition of cost was way, or course of action.

Examples

If you needed another reason to avoid coronavirus at all costs, here’s one. (The Week Magazine)

“There must be a bright line between aggressive advocacy and ‘win at all costs’ unethical conduct.” (The Baltimore Sun)

Does Iran Really Want to Build Nuclear Weapons at Any Cost? Maybe Not (Haaretz)

UK Sport has denied seeking to win Olympic medals at any cost following revelations it secretly spent hundreds of thousands of pounds on testing an experimental substance on 91 elite athletes before London 2012. (The Guardian)

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