All American or all-American

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All-American, spelled with a hyphen, is an adjective to describe something or someone as having the general qualities associated with being from the United States of America. This can also be a title given to someone or something that is chosen or voted to be the best in America. A variant of this term is all-America; however, this variant is almost exclusively tied to the athletic designation. This term can also be a noun for someone or something that typifies the United States or has been deemed to be the best. It can also describe something as being made completely from materials in the United States.

Note: The word American is always capitalized as a proper noun, but the word all is only capitalized when it is the beginning of a sentence or an actual title.

This term is interesting because even when it was coined in the 1920s, America has always been a conglomeration of other cultures. Aside from the designation in sports, this term is generally used for things such as apple pie, football players, or Ford pickup trucks. Now, the term can even be used pejoratively to make fun of the idea that America can be typified by anything.


There are few chefs better qualified than Stuart to give a Steel City shake-up to an all-American classic. [Sheffield Telegraph]

Writing “Leonie Putzkammer,” she’s told, would “take up valuable time during introductions and autographing sessions. It is also too ethnic, too German, and the powers that be . . . want everyone to think you are an all-American girl.” [The New York Times]