Everything But the Kitchen Sink (Origin)

by Craig Shrives

What Is the Origin of the Saying "Everything But the Kitchen Sink"?

The term "everything but the kitchen sink" means almost everything.
Everything But the Kitchen Sink (Origin)

Examples of Use:

  • Do you really need all those things? You have packed everything but the kitchen sink.
  • There's no room for a car in my garage. My husband has stored everything but the kitchen sink in there.
  • The Chinese supermarkets in Europe are amazing. You can buy everything but the kitchen sink. In fact, they even sell kitchen sinks.
  • We have thrown everything but the kitchen sink at this problem.
This idiom originates from the late 19th century, when the term was "everything but the kitchen stove." This later evolved to the "sink" version as shown by this extract from the New York newspaper "The Syracuse Herald" in 1918:
  • I have I shall rather enjoy the experience, though the stitlons are full of people trying to get out and the streets blocked with perambulators, bird cages and "everything but the kitchen sink."
The term was popularized during World War II (evidence), when "kitchen sink" was used when describing an intense bombardment:
  • They threw everything they had at us, except the kitchen sink. In fact, they threw everything they had at us, including the kitchen sink

Why the Kitchen Sink?

The French equivalent to this saying is tout sauf les murs (everything but the walls). "Walls" makes sense because they are immovable, and this might be why "kitchen stove" was chosen. "Kitchen sink" also works for this reason. It possible that the sink version caught on because it is an example of assonance (the "i" sound is repeated in kitchen sink), which gives it more rhythm than the "stove" version.

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See Also

What are idioms? What is figurative language? A list of common grammar errors A list of easily confused words A list of sayings and proverbs

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