Leave No Stone Unturned: Definition, Meaning, and Origin

Last Updated on
January 7, 2024

The phrase "leave no stone unturned" is commonly used to express a thorough search or investigation. It means to do everything possible, to explore every possibility to achieve a goal or find something.

In short:

  • It means to do everything possible to achieve a goal or find something.
  • it is used to describe a thorough and exhaustive effort.

What Does "Leave No Stone Unturned" Mean?

The phrase "leave no stone unturned" is a way of saying that every possible action or path should be taken to achieve an objective. It's often used when someone is trying to solve a problem, find something, or reach a goal, and they are committed to trying every avenue or possibility. For example, if a detective is working on a case, they might say they will "leave no stone unturned" to find the truth, meaning they will exhaust every possible means to solve the case.

More about the phrase's meaning:

  • It indicates a very thorough or exhaustive approach.
  • It's a metaphor for not overlooking any options or possibilities.
  • It expresses commitment to achieving a goal or finding a solution.
  • It can apply to various situations, from problem-solving to research.
  • Often used to reassure that all efforts are being made.
  • Similar phrases include "cover all bases," "explore every avenue," and "search high and low."

Where Does "Leave No Stone Unturned" Come From?

The phrase “leave no stone unturned” dates back to a Greek legend recounted by Euripides. One of Xerxes’s generals, Mardonius, was said to have abandoned a great treasure in his tent when he was defeated in the battle of Plataea (477 B.C.). Those seeking the treasure consulted the Oracle of Delphi, who advised them to move every stone. The present form of the phrase originated in the mid-1500s.

10 Examples of "Leave No Stone Unturned" in Sentences

To help you understand how to use this phrase, here are some examples from different contexts:

  • The detective promised to leave no stone unturned in the search for the missing person.
  • Spill the tea, and I'll leave no stone unturned to get to the bottom of this story.
  • The journalist was determined to leave no stone unturned while investigating the story.
  • They began investigating tout de suite, vowing to leave no stone unturned in their thorough search.
  • In his pursuit of happiness, he pledged to leave no stone unturned.
  • While planning the holiday, they left no stone unturned to find the best deals.
  • The teacher left no stone unturned to help her students understand the complex topic.
  • Thank you for the information; I'll leave no stone unturned to follow up on the leads you provided.
  • Per your request, we'll leave no stone unturned in auditing the accounts to ensure complete accuracy.
  • The athlete left no stone unturned in training for the Olympics.

Examples of "Leave No Stone Unturned" in Pop Culture

This phrase is also seen in pop culture, illustrating characters' determination and thorough efforts.

Let's look at some examples:

  • Neil Gaiman advises, "Leave no stone unturned. Deeply explore the beauty of your life." This quote reflects Gaiman's perspective on life's exploration and discovery.
  • Edward Bulwer Lytton wrote, "To find what you seek in the road of life, the best proverb of all is that which says: Leave no stone unturned." This quote is from the English writer and politician known for his literary contributions.
  • In the 2015 film "Cinderella," a line goes: "We must leave no stone unturned." This movie is a live-action adaptation of the classic fairy tale.
  • In "Who Framed Roger Rabbit," a character says, "Search the place, boys. And leave no stone unturned." This line is from the innovative live-action/animated film that blends noir with cartoon comedy.

Synonyms: Other Ways to Say "Leave No Stone Unturned"

Here are some alternative phrases with similar meanings:

  • Explore every avenue
  • Search high and low
  • Cover all bases
  • Examine every possibility
  • Go to great lengths
  • Do one's utmost
  • Be thorough
  • Check every corner
  • Turn everything upside down
  • Go the extra mile

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "Leave No Stone Unturned":

  • What does "leave no stone unturned" mean?

"Leave no stone unturned" means to do everything possible to find something or to achieve a goal, exploring every possibility.

  • How can I use "leave no stone unturned" in a sentence?

You can use it when you're describing a thorough effort. For example: "The team left no stone unturned in their search for the lost treasure."

  • Is "leave no stone unturned" used in formal or informal language?

It can be used in both formal and informal settings, often to emphasize determination and thoroughness.

  • Can "leave no stone unturned" be used in literal situations?

While it can be used literally, it's most often used figuratively to describe a very thorough search or effort.

  • Is this phrase common in everyday language?

Yes, it's a common phrase used in everyday language to describe thorough and exhaustive efforts.

  • What's the origin of "leave no stone unturned"?

The phrase originates from an ancient story about the Greek general Pyrrhus, who was advised to leave no stone unturned in his quest to defeat the Romans.

  • Can "leave no stone unturned" apply to emotional efforts?

Yes, it can also apply to emotional or intellectual efforts, like trying to understand a complex issue fully.

  • Are there any synonyms for this phrase?

Yes, synonyms include "explore every avenue," "search high and low," and "cover all bases.

  • How is "leave no stone unturned" different from "going the extra mile"?

While similar, "going the extra mile" often implies doing more than what's required, whereas "leave no stone unturned" implies thoroughness in what's required.

  • Is "leave no stone unturned" used in professional contexts?

Yes, it's often used in professional contexts to describe comprehensive and exhaustive approaches to tasks or projects.

Final Thoughts About "Leave No Stone Unturned"

The idiom "leave no stone unturned" is a valuable idiom for emphasizing thoroughness and exhaustive effort in various contexts, from everyday language to professional settings.

In summary:

  • It's a handy phrase for expressing the idea of doing everything possible or exploring every option.
  • It's appropriate for use in both casual and formal contexts.
  • It indicates a comprehensive and meticulous approach to tasks, problems, or searches.
  • It helps convey determination and commitment to achieving a goal or finding a solution.

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