All Ready / Already


New Member
I know that "already" is an adverb and "all ready" is an adverbial phrase. I want to know how these two words came to be. Also, any information not provided in the dictionary is welcome.

  • Porteño

    Member Emeritus
    British English
    Welcome to the forum but I'm afraid you'll have to wait for one of our etymologists on this one.

    Good luck! It will no doubt be very interesting.


    Senior Member
    English, US
    Hi dl615,

    Welcome to the forums!

    I'm not sure of the answer, but I have often wondered questions like that myself. For instance, the words "anyway" vs. "any way," "however" vs. "how ever." There are many examples of words that, together, mean something totally different (or in some cases only slightly different) than if the words are apart! I await answers to this interesting question, since I have no idea! :)

    God bless,


    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Hello David, and welcome to WordReference.

    I don't suppose that all ready needs any explanation. Each word has its normal meaning.

    Already began as all ready, and originally meant exactly that. Its meaning has shifted over time. Following the examples from the OED I summarise and simplify:

    Dinner is all ready.
    Dinner is already.
    Dinner is already in the kitchen.

    In the 16th century the last sentence would have meant only that all elements of dinner are ready for us.

    By now, it carries the additional sense of having been prepared in advance, in anticipation, perhaps early.


    New Member
    Thanks for the feedback!

    A follow up question:

    would "all ready" be a formal term or an informal term?