What exactly does it mean to leave no stone unturned? To “leave no stone unturned,” as the idiom goes, is to do everything within your power or whatever it takes to realize your goals.
Stones here refer to the hurdles or obstacles that one might face and to turn each stone to pass all these obstacles until you have emerged victorious.
Other times, this phrase can be used to mean a thorough search for an item or object that was misplaced or lost. In fact, this meaning is related to the origin of the idiom.
According to a Greek legend, in the 16th century, treasure hunters who were searching for the treasure of the vanquished general and his army consulted the Oracle of Delphi who assured them of the treasure and told them to leave no stone unturned.
This implied that the treasure they were looking for was underneath a stone and so they had to search all of them.
Times have changed though and whether you are looking for something or encouraging someone to do more, there are other phrases you can use instead of “leave no stone unturned”.
13 Similar Phrases to “Leave No Stone Unturned”
- To go the extra mile
- To spare no effort
- Do something for all you are worth
- To go all out
- Pull out all the stops
- Bend over backward
- To give it all you’ve got
- To knock oneself out
- Put your heart and soul into it
- To shoot the works
- Look high and low
- Turn inside out/turn upside down
- Go through with a fine tooth-comb
To achieve a goal
Let’s say you are preparing for an exam, trying out for a team, or trying to step up your game to get to a new level generally.
This is trying to achieve a goal and in doing so you will go through intense preparation and “leave no stone unturned” in your preparation. Here are other phrases you can use instead of that:
To go the extra mile
The phrase to go the extra mile is to make an additional effort, to do more than what is expected to achieve what you have in mind.
For example, taking extra lessons after school or having personal studying time to make sure you tip your class. This phrase is figurative and it doesn’t mean to literally travel any distance.
This phrase got popular in the early 20th century even though it originated from a line in the sermon of Jesus in the Bible: “If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.”
It means to do nice things for people when they ask you to and to even do more if you can. Here’s how you use it:
Mum always says that I have to go the extra mile if I want to be the best student in the state.
To spare no effort
This phrase is self-explanatory. When you spare no effort it means you do everything in your power to achieve something despite how hard it may seem, how much is required, or how much it costs.
It means you have to sacrifice something, usually your time or precious for something that will give you a greater sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. Here’s an example of how to use it:
Parents, be rest assured that your children are safe. We have spared no effort in making sure that the ride is safe for children under the age of five.
Do something for all you are worth
When you hear this phrase, what comes to mind immediately might be your value, how much you have or can give out.
Very far from that, this phase just means to give your all. It means that if you were to measure the effort you have put into a particular venture, it will be equal to all you have because you gave it everything without holding back.
For example, using all your might to push a car, using all your savings to start a business, or taking a huge risk.
That is doing something for all your worth. Here’s an example of the phrase in a sentence:
We checked all the stores for all we were worth but we couldn’t find the exact brand we were looking for.
To go all out
Usually, when we hear the phrase “to go all out”, the first thing that comes to mind is something that is extravagant and excessive but this phrase can also mean putting in a lot of effort.
The difference between a normal effort and going all out is not just the work you put into it, but the enthusiasm that goes alongside it, and most times when you go all out on something, it is with something that you are very passionate about or enthusiastic about.
This phrase sprouted from the compound word, “all-out” which simply meant completely or wholly. Now it means. To exert a lot of effort into what one does. Here’s how to use it:
When it comes to reading, my daughter likes to go all out. She gets resources from everywhere possible, has a tight timetable, and is very disciplined in how she reads.
To pull out all the stops
When you pull out all the stops you are doing everything possible to make something a success. You do things without any reservations.
It’s like an emergency. During an emergency, you break protocols or rules you have to save a situation or get something done.
You use everything you have at your disposal so that you can get the result that you want. The “stops” in this phrase refer to the physical stop knobs of a pipe organ.
Without the stops, you couldn’t bring the ranks of pipes into play and won’t generate sound. Here’s how you use it in a sentence:
When it comes to his daughter’s health, Mr. Brown pulls out the stops. He says he can’t lose the only family he has left.
Bend over backward
To bend over backward is to go out of your way to get something done in a bid to be helpful and ensure fairness. It means it’s not just about you.
You are making sacrifices and doing the best you can for the good of everyone. As might have guessed, this saying has something to do with gymnastics.
From 920 CE, it was used to describe the athletic act of bending one’s back in order to ensure that something goes as planned.
Back bending here can also apply to the inconvenience it gives to people. Here’s how you use it:
I will bend over backward just to get those pictures back.
To give it all you’ve got
I believe this is easy enough to understand and it’s the kind of phrase we use every day. To give something all you have got is to use all you have, without holding back, to get what you want.
Giving something all you have got is more inclined to physical energy or exerting physical force on something most times.
Here’s an example:
If you want to be the best, you have to give this all you have got. It calls for total seriousness and discipline at all times.
To knock oneself out
Usually, if someone asks for something, and you tell them to knock themselves out, you are trying to tell them to go ahead and have fun with whatever it is that they want to do.
When you consider this as an idiom it means to work tirelessly on something to achieve a goal. When you knock someone out they become conscious, or if you are knocked out then you are exhausted.
That is what it means: to work so tirelessly to the point that you are thoroughly exhausted
If you tell someone you would knock yourself out just to help them then it means you would work until you can work no more. Sweet isn’t it?
Here’s how you use it in a sentence:
I knocked myself in making sure that this ceremony goes on without a hitch.
Put your heart and soul into it
If you have ever wanted something so badly before, you will know that at that moment, it mattered so much to you.
You felt it inside, deep within and when you had a fighting chance to get it, you did every single thing you could use every part of you to get it.
That is putting your heart and soul into something. Heart and soul here means you use all that you have got to get something done.
There’s a particular origin story of this idiom but it’s been around since the 1700s. Here’s how you use it:
It’s not that Trevor is being bossy or a busybody. He just puts his heart and soul into his work, and things are going perfectly.
To shoot the works
To shoot the works is simply to make an effort. That effort is by no means small and even though it is a singular act it can be a great sacrifice like emptying your bank account on a single project or taking a huge risk that if it fails can ruin you.
If the effort you are trying to make makes more money, then this phrase is most appropriate to use. This phrase can not be used formally and it was first used in the latter part of the first 1900 hundred.
It came into use courtesy of a 1934 comedy film, Shoot The Works. Here’s how it’s used in a sentence:
Bob took all the money he saved up and decided to shoot the works on that business plan he has been going on about.
To find something
In searching for something, leaving no stone unturned is to check everywhere no matter how unrelated or weird it may seem.
It is after all how you find what you are looking for: searching for it in the most unlikely places. You can use the other phrases below in place of “leaving no stone unturned”:
Look high and low
To look high and low to search every possible and unlikely place for something. It is very simple to use and doesn’t sound like an idiom.
High and low are words and opposites so using this phrase tells someone that you have checked everywhere, not ignoring any place at all.
This phrase references a 1200s Shakespeare poem “He wooes both high and low, both rich and poor, both young and old.”
In this line, high and low mean the social background, but in the phrase, it talks about a location that encompasses Every possible place. Here’s how you use it:
Well, Mandy, I searched high and low for your ticket but I couldn’t find it. Looks like you would have to miss that concert.
Turn inside out/turn upside down
When something is inside out or upside down, it means that it is not organized or in the proper way it should be.
When looking for something, we tend to make a mess by pulling things out of their place just to find what we are looking for. It is a very simple phrase and it’s easy to use. Here’s an example:
I will turn this place inside out if I have to. I will just want to do whatever it takes to find those treasured books.
Go through with a fine tooth-comb
To go through or go over something with a fine tooth-comb is to closely examine that thing. It’s like when you comb your hair with a fine tooth comb, that is a comb with its teeth close together.
It gets rid of the tangles and thoroughly does the job. This saying started in the late 1800s when people started to use the fine-toothed comb as a figurative expression for anything at all that was done with great care.
Here’s how you use it:
I have to find Mandy’s ticket. She forgot it in the park yesterday so I will be going through the park with a fine toothcomb.
Switching up the usual phrases you use can give your speech a breath of fresh air. it takes out the cliché and makes you a more interesting person to listen to.
If you have any ideas and thoughts on this article, feel free to pop them in the comments section.