Everything but the Kitchen Sink

Also: kitchen sink (adjective)

Meaning of Idiom ‘Everything but the Kitchen Sink’

Everything but the kitchen sink means almost everything, whether appropriate or not; everything imaginable. 1Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.,2Ayto, John. Oxford Dictionary of English Idioms. Oxford: Oxford U, 2010.,3Bengelsdorf, Peter. Idioms in the News – 1,000 Phrases, Real Examples. N.p.: Amz Digital Services, 2012.


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Usage

The expression everything but the kitchen sink has been used so often that the term kitchen sink itself has become a related idiom, used as an adjective. For example, when a cell phone has everything but the kitchen sink, it has almost every feature possible, even if some of those features are completely unneeded or impractical. The company that makes this phone, then, has used a kitchen sink approach to its design, meaning that they have “thrown in every feature possible.” When such a company encounters a problem they might “throw the kitchen sink” at it, meaning they utilize all their resources to solve the problem. However it is used, the idiom tends to be hyperbolic and slightly humorous.

Also possible is the more hyperbolic variation “everything including the kitchen sink.”

Meaning of idiom everything but the kitchen sink

Origin

According to Eric Partridge in Dictionary of Forces’ Slang, this expression was first used in a military context, describing a violent bombardment where everything is fired at the enemy “except the kitchen sink” or “including the kitchen sink.” It has been used since the early 1900’s, but only became widespread in the mid-1900’s. 4Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.,5Ayto, John. Oxford Dictionary of English Idioms. Oxford: Oxford U, 2010.

Typically, of all the items in a kitchen, the sink would be the hardest to remove, as it is attached by plumbing and other means, so that “everything but the kitchen sink” is a humorous way of describing everything remotely possible. When the expression includes the kitchen sink, it uses exaggeration to intensify the meaning.

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Sources   [ + ]

1, 4. Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.
2, 5. Ayto, John. Oxford Dictionary of English Idioms. Oxford: Oxford U, 2010.
3. Bengelsdorf, Peter. Idioms in the News – 1,000 Phrases, Real Examples. N.p.: Amz Digital Services, 2012.