It Was All I Could Do Not to Throw My Book at The Wall!

Prepare yourselves for a rant.

It was all I could do…

If ever there is a phrase that makes me want to throw my book at the wall, or stamp on my poor Kindle in frustration, it’s the phrase ‘it was all I could do’.

It’s a stupid sentence. It’s meaningless. It sounds terrible. And worst of all, it’s extremely prolific.

It was all I could do.

Frustrated_blue_textbookWhat does that even mean anyway? Don’t answer that. I know what it’s supposed to mean, but it actually means nothing. Yet I see it everywhere.

Of course, that’s the beauty (or not so beauty, in this case) of idioms. They don’t make sense in a literal term, and they’re not supposed to. They’re phrases that can’t be understood from the meanings of the individual words, but instead the phrase as a whole and from regular usage.

Still, it’s an annoying idiom. I have been known, occassionally, to actually put a book down because I’ve been so frustrated with its overuse. It was all I could do.

What, people? What was all you could do? And why?

If the author said “all I could do was laugh,” or “all I could do was cry myself into a puddle of abandon” then I could get it. But just saying “it was all I could do” is just not good enough.

And it you really, really must use “it was all I could do,” please, please use an antecedent – “I had to do a Google a search to find the answer. It was all I could do to stop myself dying of curiosity.” In all honesty though, it’s probably best to just… ya know… not!

Sorry, not sorry.


  1. The trouble is that it has been shortened by lazy people. It’s supposed to be a full phrase. It was literally all I could do not to burst out laughing while reading your post. Mind you, even all I could do was not enough because I did snigger and laugh.

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