Why do we say “by all means” when we mean “by any means”?

The common expression by all means seems to advocate the use of all means possible in order to accomplish a certain object, when in fact it expresses the use of any means to do it. I realize that all can mean any when used with a negative phrase, such as beyond all hope. Because, of course, if one is beyond any hope, he is also beyond all hope (and vice versa). But in a positive context, such as with by all means, it doesn’t necessarily follow that when one uses any means to accomplish a task, that he uses all possible means. Why is all used to mean any in this expression?


To my ear, any means exhorts any one particular method, whereas all means implores the use of all and sundry methods.

Source : Link , Question Author : Daniel , Answer Author : choster

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