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Etymology of "once and for all"?
February 11, 2011 3:59 PM   Subscribe

What's the etymology of the phrase "once and for all"? What's the earliest known attestation?
posted by topynate to Writing & Language (5 answers total)
 
Etymology dictionary on the word "once":
c.1200, anes, from ane "one" + adverbial genitive. Replaced O.E. æne. Spelling changed as pronunciation shifted from two syllables to one after c.1300. Pronunciation change to "wuns" parallels that of one. As an emphatic, meaning "once and for all," it is attested from c.1300, but this now is regarded as a Pennsylvania German dialect formation.
posted by John Cohen at 4:03 PM on February 11, 2011


The Oxford English Dictionary says it comes from the similar phrase "once for all (also once for altogether, once for always, once for ever): once as a final act; conclusively, so as to end uncertainty." FIrst quotation of this type of phrase:
a1400 (1303) R. Mannyng Handlyng Synne (Harl.) 9696 He þat ys‥baptysed, Ones for euer ys.
First quotation of "once for all:"
1490 Caxton tr. Foure Sonnes of Aymon (1885) xix. 403 We oughte to aske it of hym ones for all.
First quotation of "once and for all:"
1814 Scott Waverley I. v. 54, I beg pardon, once and for all, of those readers‥for plaguing them so long with old-fashioned politics.
posted by grouse at 4:05 PM on February 11, 2011


Brilliant. Many thanks.
posted by topynate at 4:10 PM on February 11, 2011


Sayeth the OED:


a. once for all (also once for altogether, once for always, once for ever): once as a final act; conclusively, so as to end uncertainty.

a1400 (1303) R. Mannyng Handlyng Synne (Harl.) 9696 He þat ys‥baptysed, Ones for euer ys.

a1450 (1391) Chaucer Treat. Astrolabe ii. §3 9 Take this manere of settyng for a general rule ones for evere.

1490 Caxton tr. Foure Sonnes of Aymon (1885) xix. 403 We oughte to aske it of hym ones for all.

1525 Ld. Berners tr. J. Froissart Chron. II. xxxvii. 110 Ones for alwayes I defende the.

1542 N. Udall tr. Erasmus Apophthegmes 275 b, Once for altogether.

1611 Bible (A.V.) Heb. x. 10 By the which will wee are sanctified, through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

1656 Earl of Monmouth tr. T. Boccalini Ragguagli di Parnasso 100 These Judges have cleared the question once for ever.

1660 R. Boyle New Exper. Physico-mech. (1682) xxvii. 108 Give me leave to advertise your Lordship once for all.

1709 G. Berkeley Ess. New Theory of Vision §120. 138, I do therefore, once for all, desire whoever shall think it worth his while, to understand what I have written concerning Vision, that [etc.].

a1722 J. Toland Hist. Druids in Coll. Pieces (1726) I. 25 Let it be noted once for all, that‥t and d are commonly put for each other.

1778 D. Garrick Let. 30 Oct. (1963) III. 1252 Mr Garrick begs once for all that Mr Miles will not imagine that he wishes him to decline any thing which may produce him any Emolument.

1818 J. Bentham Church-of-Englandism 115 So far as use is made of a once-for-all composed and for ever-established formulary.

1861 Dickens Great Expectations I. xvii. 273 Well then, understand once for all that I never shall or can be comfortable‥there.

1908 L. M. Montgomery Anne of Green Gables xviii. 204, I assure you once for all that I did not mean to intoxicate Diana.

1991 J. Caldwell Oxf. Hist. Eng. Music I. vii. 406 It defined once for all the characteristic flavour of the English madrigal.


b. Similarly once and for all.
Now the more common form.


1814 Scott Waverley I. v. 54, I beg pardon, once and for all, of those readers‥for plaguing them so long with old-fashioned politics.

1856 J. A. Froude Hist. Eng. (1858) I. v. 398 To bring the matter to a close once and for all.

1895 W. Morris Beowulf x. 23 E'en that in mind had I‥, that for once and for all the will of your people would I set me to work.

1914 E. R. Burroughs Tarzan of Apes xxvii. 372 Let us understand each other once and for all.

1949 Sc. Jrnl. Theol. 2 87 The only primitive wholeness that the Reformed Churches recognise is the once-and-for-all wholeness of Jesus Christ in whom God and man are at one.

1996 R. Mistry Fine Balance v. 223 Please understand once and for all—if you forget something we can always mail a parcel.

2000 M. Beaumont e 102 If I return to find another unsolicited e-mail‥, you will find my patience has snapped once and for all.

posted by obiwanwasabi at 4:10 PM on February 11, 2011


...and next time I duck off to the powder room mid-comment I'll preview.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 4:11 PM on February 11, 2011


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