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All to break (Judges ix. 53)


“A certain woman cast a piece of millstone upon Abimelech’s head, and all to brake his skull” does not mean for the sake of breaking his skull, but that she wholly smashed his skull. A spurious form, owing its existence to a typographical mistake. The to really belongs to the verb; and in the last passage quoted it should be read “all to-brake.” The to is a Teutonic particle, meaning asunder, in pieces. It is very common in Old English, where we have “To-bite,” i.e. bite in pieces, tocleave, to-rend, to-tear. All is the adverb = entirely, wholly. So “all to bebattered” = wholly battered to pieces. All-to-frozen. Here to-frozen is intensitive. So in Latin dis-crucior = valde crucior. Plautus (in his Menœchmi, ii. line 24) uses the phrase “dis-caveas malo,” i.e. be fully on your guard, etc., be very much beware of.

Gothic, dis; O. N., tor; Old High German, zar; Latin, dis; Greek, de.

“Mercutio’s icy hand had all-to-frozen mine” i.e. wholly frozen up mine).—Romeo and Juliet (1362).

“Her wings were al-to-ruffled and sometimes impaired.”—Milton: Comus.

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Entry taken from Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, edited by the Rev. E. Cobham Brewer, LL.D. and revised in 1895.

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All is not gold that glitters or glisters
All my Eye (and) Betty Martin
All one
All Saints
All Serene
All Souls Day
All the go
All there
All this for a Song!
All to break (Judges ix. 53)
All waters (I am for)
Alla or Allah (that is, al-ilah)
Alla Akbar
Alley (The)
Alliensis (Dies) (June 16th, B.C. 390)