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For all the marbles

  • For all the marbles  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 saying for all the marbles, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.

     

    For all the marbles means for complete victory or to earn or win all the prizes. For instance, a last-minute play in a sporting event that has a tied score may be said to be for all the marbles. The play will determine whether the player wins or loses. The idiom for all the marbles came into use in the latter-1800s and is derived from the childhood game of marbles. Children often played marble games that involved the victor keeping and owning captured marbles. In this type of marble game, a shot may be said to be for all the marbles.

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    Examples

    But McGregor has tonight uploaded a lengthy caption on Instagram where he all-but confirms the two warriors will go at it for a third time for ‘all the marbles’. (The Sun)

    Should either Snake River or American Falls win that Monday contest, a subsequent game will be played on Tuesday for all the marbles and a berth at the state tournament. (Bingham News Chronicle)

    It ends with a game of HORSE—or rather HOOP—with Lillard pulling up from half-court for all the marbles. (Williamette Week)


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