be all things to all men

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be all things to all men

To be liked or appreciated by everyone (usually after overt efforts to please them). The phrase likely originated in the Bible. I know you want your students to like you, but you have to discipline them when they misbehave. You can't be all things to all men. I don't trust that candidate—he is trying to be all things to all men and still hasn't committed to a clear course of action.
See also: all, men, thing
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

be all things to all men

If someone or something is trying to be all things to all men, they are trying to please everyone, and this is impossible. The film tries to be all things to all men — comedy, romance, fantasy, and satire. Note: You can also say that someone tries to be all things to all people. I realised I had a big problem. I wanted to be all things to all people. Note: This expression is used to show disapproval.
See also: all, men, thing
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

be all things to all men (or people)

1 please everyone, typically by regularly altering your behaviour or opinions in order to conform to those of others. 2 be able to be interpreted or used differently by different people to their own satisfaction.
This expression probably originated in reference to 1 Corinthians 9:22: ‘I am made all things to all men’.
See also: all, men, thing
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

be all ˌthings to all ˈmen/ˈpeople

(saying) change the way you behave or what you say to try to please the people you are with: The President’s attempts to be all things to all men had disastrous consequences.
See also: all, men, people, thing
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

all things to all men, to be

To adapt so as to satisfy everyone. The term appears in the New Testament of the Bible, in the first book of Corinthians (9:22): “I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.” Today it is more often used negatively—that is, one cannot be all things to all men, although political candidates in particular continue to try. Eric Partridge believed it was a cliché by the nineteenth century.
See also: all, thing
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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