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Leave no stone unturned

  • Leave no stone unturned is an idiom that dates to ancient times. 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 leave no stone unturned where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.

     

    To leave no stone unturned means to exhaust all possibilities, to be very thorough, to investigate every course of inquiry. The expression leave no stone unturned came into use in the 1500s. The scholar Erasmus used it in the translation of a particular Greek legend into Latin. Then, the Latin rendition was translated into English. The Greek legend that Erasmus translated concerned Polycrates of Thebes and his search for Mardonius’ treasure. Mardonius had buried his treasure somewhere near his tent, and Polycrates consulted the Oracle of Delphi to find it. The oracle told Polycrates to move ever stone until he found the treasure; Erasmus translated the passage of this Greek legend as leave no stone unturned. Related phrases are leaves not stone unturned, left no stone unturned, leaving no stone unturned.

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    Examples

    This directly leads credence to the philosophy that Paton will leave no stone unturned and will not hesitate to bring in players if he thinks they can help the team win. (Sports Illustrated)

    Kohli, who will leave no stone unturned to propel Team India to their maiden ICC trophy since 2013 was pleased to see the sun shining bright at the Ageas Bowl – the venue for the Test Championship showdown between India and Kane Williamson-led New Zealand in Southampton, England.  (Times)

    “Merseyside Police, along with law enforcement agencies across the world, will leave no stone unturned in our pursuit of those people who think they are above the law, and we will continue to target anyone involved in serious organised crime to keep this positive momentum going.” (Wirral Globe)


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