Understanding the Idiom: "all very well" - Meaning, Origins, and Usage

Idiom language: English
  • (all right): dandy, all well and good
  • (true):

When communicating in English, it is important to understand common idioms that are used in everyday conversation. One such idiom is “all very well.” This phrase may seem simple at first glance, but its meaning can be quite complex and nuanced.

In essence, “all very well” is often used to express agreement or approval with a particular statement or idea. However, it can also be used to convey a sense of skepticism or doubt about something that has been said.

To fully understand the nuances of this idiom, it is important to examine how it is used in different contexts and situations. By exploring examples of its usage and understanding the underlying meanings behind these expressions, you can gain a deeper appreciation for the complexity and richness of the English language.

So whether you’re an ESL student looking to improve your language skills or simply someone who wants to communicate more effectively with native speakers, taking the time to learn about idioms like “all very well” can be a valuable investment in your personal and professional development.

Origins and Historical Context of the Idiom “all very well”

The idiom “all very well” is a commonly used phrase in English language that expresses approval or agreement, but with a hint of skepticism. It is often used to express doubt about something that seems too good to be true or to question the practicality of an idea.


The origin of this idiom can be traced back to the 18th century when it was first recorded in literature. The phrase was originally used as “all very fine”, which meant something similar to its modern-day usage. Over time, the word ‘fine’ was replaced by ‘well’, and the phrase became more popularly known as “all very well”.

Historical Context

The idiom gained popularity during the Victorian era when Britain experienced significant social, economic, and political changes. During this period, there were debates about issues such as women’s rights, industrialization, and imperialism. The use of this idiom reflected people’s skepticism towards these changes and their desire for practical solutions rather than just lofty ideals.

Word/Phrase Synonym
All very well Fine but…
Doubtful Skeptical
Ideas that are not practical or realistic Lofty ideals
To question something too good to be true To express doubt about something unrealistic
Expressing approval with skepticism Agreeing but questioning the practicality of something

Usage and Variations of the Idiom “all very well”

Variations of “all very well”

While “all very well” is the most common form of this idiom, there are several variations that convey similar meanings. Some examples include:

– All fine and dandy

– All good

– All right

– Okay

These variations may differ slightly in tone or emphasis but ultimately express agreement or acceptance.

Usage Examples

The usage of “all very well” depends on the context, but some common examples include:

– Acknowledging a positive aspect: “It’s all very well to criticize my work, but at least I’m trying.”

– Expressing agreement with conditions: “I agree that we should go on vacation together, but only if we stay in separate hotel rooms.”

– Recognizing limitations: “It’s all very well to dream big, but you also need to have a realistic plan.”

In each case, the speaker acknowledges a point while adding their own perspective or condition.

Synonyms, Antonyms, and Cultural Insights for the Idiom


Some synonyms for “all very well” include “fine”, “okay”, “good enough”, and “acceptable”. These words convey a similar idea that something is satisfactory or suitable.


On the other hand, some antonyms for “all very well” are “not good enough”, “unsatisfactory”, and “inadequate”. These words express dissatisfaction with a situation or outcome.

Cultural Insights:

The use of idioms can vary across cultures and languages. In British English, the phrase “all very well” is often used in a sarcastic tone to indicate disagreement or skepticism towards something that has been said. For example: “Oh sure, it’s all very well for you to say that now…” In American English, however, this idiom may not be as commonly used in everyday conversation.

Understanding synonyms and antonyms can help expand our vocabulary and improve our communication skills. Additionally, being aware of cultural nuances associated with idioms can help avoid misunderstandings in cross-cultural interactions.

Practical Exercises for the Idiom “all very well”

Exercise 1: Fill in the Blank

Instructions: Complete each sentence with an appropriate form of the idiom “all very well”.

1. It’s _______ that you want to travel around the world, but how do you plan on paying for it?

2. She said she would help us move, but it’s _______ if she doesn’t show up on time.

3. He thinks he can finish his project by himself, but that’s _______ easier said than done.

4. It’s _______ that he wants to learn a new language, but does he have enough time to study?

Exercise 2: Role Play

Instructions: Work with a partner and practice using the idiom “all very well” in a conversation.

Scenario: You and your friend are discussing your plans for a weekend trip.

Person A: I think we should go camping in the mountains.

Person B: That’s all very well, but I don’t like sleeping outside.

Person A: We can rent a cabin instead.

Person B: That sounds better. But what about food?

Person A: We can bring our own supplies or buy them at a nearby store.

Person B: Okay, that’s all very well then.

Remember to use appropriate intonation and body language during your role play!

By practicing these exercises regularly, you will become more confident using the idiom “all very well” correctly in various contexts. Keep up with your studies and soon enough you’ll be able to use this expression naturally!

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Using the Idiom “all very well”

When it comes to using idioms in English, it’s important to understand their meanings and how they are used in context. The idiom “all very well” is no exception. However, there are some common mistakes that people make when using this phrase that can lead to confusion or misunderstanding.

Avoiding Overuse

One mistake that people often make when using the idiom “all very well” is overusing it. While this phrase can be useful for expressing agreement or acknowledging a point, using it too frequently can make your speech or writing sound repetitive and dull. Instead of relying on this phrase as a crutch, try to vary your language and use other expressions that convey similar meanings.

Avoiding Misuse

Another common mistake when using the idiom “all very well” is misusing it in context. This phrase is typically used to acknowledge a positive aspect of something while also recognizing potential drawbacks or limitations. For example, you might say “It’s all very well having a big house, but it can be hard to maintain.” However, if you use this phrase incorrectly – such as saying “It’s all very well raining today” – you risk sounding confused or unintelligible.

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