Best of both worlds

Best of both worlds  is an idiom with an uncertain origin. An idiom is a commonly used word, group of words, or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery or metaphors, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech like an often-used metaphor have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom, which may use slang words or other parts of speech common in American slang or British slang, is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions and idiomatic language such as hit the sack, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, silver lining, back to the drawing board, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, hit the nail on the head, face the music, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, because they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. English phrases that are idioms should not be taken literally. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker; it is helpful to maintain a list of phrases, common expressions, colloquial terms, and popular expressions to memorize that are used figuratively or idiomatically. We will examine the meaning of the common idiom best of both worlds, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.

Best of both worlds means to enjoy all the advantages of two different situations but not have to contend with any of the disadvantages. For instance, one who works from home and can structure his day around his family’s needs and yet work at a good-paying job may be said to have the best of both worlds. The expression best of both worlds became popular around the end of the 1800s and may have been derived from Voltaire’s work, Candide, which was published in 1759. In it, Voltaire uses the phrase: “the best of all possible worlds.”


Both a bottle shop and wine bar, this cozy downtown spot is the best of both worlds. (Fayetteville Observer)

For me, having a side hustle was the best of both worlds: I got the chance to be my own boss sometimes, but with greater financial security overall. (The National)

“At the same time, I think we’re giving him the best of both worlds, he gets to make that decision but we’ve laid out a plan that works for him.” (Anchorage Daily News)

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