To Each His Own: Definition, Meaning and Origin

Last Updated on
May 8, 2023

The idiom "to each his own" refers to the idea that everyone has their own preferences and tastes, and what one person likes may not be what another person enjoys. This expression promotes tolerance and respect for individual differences and preferences.

In short:

"To each his own" means everyone has the right to their own preferences, and what works for one person may not work for another.

What Does "To Each His Own" Mean?

The idiom "to each his own" is an expression of understanding and acceptance that people have different preferences, opinions, and interests. It suggests that it is okay for people to have their own likes and dislikes and that these differences should be respected and tolerated.

  • Used to acknowledge individual differences
  • Encourages tolerance and respect for others' preferences

People often use this phrase to resolve disagreements or debates, reminding others that having unique perspectives and tastes is normal.

Where Does "To Each His Own" Come From?

The phrase 'to each his own' is derived from the Latin expression "suum cuique," which translates to "to each his own" or "to each what he is due." This concept dates back to ancient Roman times and the recognition that people have a natural right to their own property and values. The phrase “Suum cuique” was even engraved on the Temple of Apollo as a tribute to the idea of justice as giving each person their due. Since the 16th century, people have used the idiom to emphasize the importance of individuality and respecting others' preferences.

Historical Examples

"Both of us have so long, like gamesters thrown, till fate comes round, and gives to each his own."

—The Comedies, Tragedies, and Operas, John Dryden, 1701

"Neither count his blood an unholy thing, in saying you are washed, nor his work imperfect, nor mix it with the work of the devil; but give to each his own, that thereby they may be known..."

—What the Possession of the Living Faith is, James Nayler, 1676

10 Examples of "To Each His Own" in Sentences

Here are some examples of using the idiom in sentences:

  • His lame jokes are awkward but to each his own.
  • He prefers to spend his weekends hiking and camping, and that's fine—to each his own.
  • Some people enjoy spicy food, while others can't stand it. To each his own.
  • She decided to move to the countryside, and I think it's a great choice for her. To each his own.
  • They say the grass is always greener on the other side but to each his own.
  • He loves collecting stamps as a hobby, and that's great – to each his own.
  • To each his own, but I can't understand why anyone would enjoy heaps of sugar in their coffee.
  • Some people like pineapple on their pizza, and others get riled up. To each his own.
  • She enjoys reading science fiction, and that's her preference – to each his own.
  • Some like to surf the net, while others prefer reading books in their free time. To each his own.

Examples of "To Each His Own" in Pop Culture

The phrase "to each his own" can be found in various forms of pop culture, such as movies, television shows, and literature. It is often used to highlight the diverse preferences and choices of characters, emphasizing the importance of respecting individuality and understanding that people have different tastes.

  • "To Each, His Own" is a 1946 film by Mitchell Leisen. This captivating narrative showcases the importance of individual choices and respecting the diverse paths that others may take.
  • "To Each His Own Cinema" (original title: "Chacun son cinéma ou Ce petit coup au coeur quand la lumière s'éteint et que le film commence") is a 2007 anthology film consisting of 33 short films, each directed by a different filmmaker.

Other/Different Ways to Say "To Each His Own"

There are several alternative expressions that convey a similar meaning to "to each his own."

Some of these include:

  • Different strokes for different folks
  • Everyone has their own tastes
  • Each to their own
  • One man's meat is another man's poison
  • Live and let live

People can use these phrases interchangeably depending on the context and the desired level of formality or familiarity between the speakers.

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "To Each His Own"

  • Is "to each his own" a formal expression?

"To each his own" is a versatile expression that can be used in both casual and formal settings.

  • Can people use "to each his own" sarcastically?

Yes, depending on the tone and context, the phrase can be used sarcastically to express disbelief or disagreement with someone's preferences or choices.

  • Is the phrase appropriate for professional settings?

"To each his own" can be used in professional settings to acknowledge individual differences and encourage tolerance and understanding.

  • Can people use the phrase in written communication?

People can use "to each his own" in emails, text messages, or other written communication to express acceptance of different preferences or opinions.

  • Can one use the phrase in a negative or disapproving way?

Sometimes the phrase is used in a mildly negative way to convey disagreement or disapproval while still recognizing someone else's right to their view.

  • Is the phrase judgmental?

No, the phrase is meant to convey an open and tolerant attitude toward others and their differing views.

  • Is it okay to use the phrase when discussing sensitive topics?

Using "to each his own" when discussing sensitive topics can help to diffuse tension and encourage understanding and respect for different perspectives.

  • What's the difference between "to each his own" and "agree to disagree"?

"To each his own" emphasizes the acceptance of different preferences or tastes, while "agree to disagree" is used when people decide to accept their differing opinions without further debate.

  • Can one use the phrase after a heated discussion or argument?

Using "to each his own" after a heated discussion or argument can help to establish a sense of understanding and acceptance of differing opinions, although it should be used carefully to avoid appearing dismissive or sarcastic.

  • Is it appropriate to use "to each his own" when discussing moral or ethical issues?

While "to each his own" can be used to encourage tolerance and understanding, it may not be suitable for discussions involving deeply held moral or ethical beliefs, as it may be perceived as trivializing the importance of the issue.

Final Thoughts About "To Each His Own"

"To each his own" is an idiom that acknowledges the individual differences and unique preferences among people. This phrase underscores the importance of respect and tolerance towards diverse opinions and tastes.

Key aspects of the phrase:

  • Highlights the concept that each individual has unique preferences and opinions
  • Reinforces the idea of respecting and tolerating others' differences
  • Encourages acceptance of differing tastes and opinions without judgment

Originating from ancient Roman times, "to each his own" has maintained its significance through the centuries. It serves as a profound reminder to honor the individuality of others and accept the inherent diversity of human preference.

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