What Does “The Be-All and End-All” Mean and Where Did the Phrase Come From?

Shakespeare introduced the expression, meaning “the ultimate or most important solution,” as dialogue for Macbeth.

Macbeth thinks about killing Duncan and wonders “that this blow might be the be-all and the end-all”, MacBeth I vii. IV.

Macbeth then says he would risk his status in the afterlife if it were true.

what does the be all and end all mean and where did the phrase come from

Today, Shakespeare’s second “the” is usually dropped but “the be-all and end-all” still means “the ultimate.”

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist for zippyfacts.com. Born in New York, she loves interesting random facts from all over the world.