be-all and end-all

noun \ ˈbē-ˌȯl-ən(d)-ˈend-ˌȯl \
|Updated on: 22 May 2018

Definition of be-all and end-all

1 : prime cause : essential element
2 : totality 1

Recent Examples of be-all and end-all from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'be-all and end-all.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of be-all and end-all

circa 1616

in the meaning defined at sense 1

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