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What Does "All along" Mean?

By Sherry Holetzky
Updated: May 23, 2024

Many people have heard others make statements such as, “I knew it all along.” If one is not proficient in the English language, or is simply not familiar with this phrase, it may sound rather peculiar to that person. “All along” is an idiom, which basically means from the start or for the entire time. As with many idiomatic expressions, the term can be used in a variety of ways. Such phrases can make a language more interesting but at the same time can make a language more difficult for a person to learn.

Using this phrase is similar to saying a person knew what the conclusion would be throughout the experience. If one is reading a mystery novel, he or she may determine who the culprit is early on in the story. “I knew all along that the butler did it.”

This phrase is not just used in terms of time or chronology. It can also be used to describe a particular path or route. It can also be used to talk about things that may or may not have happened during a journey or things that were or were not available on the way. “There were signs all along the way, until we got close to our exit.”

This phrase may also be used in books or stories. The term all along is frequently used songs, movies, games, and other media. Bob Dylan created a song called “All along the Watchtower,” which has been quite popular since its creation. The song has been performed by other artists and bands including Jimi Hendrix and the Grateful Dead. Many people attribute the song to Jimi Hendrix as his interpretation of it was wildly popular.

There was a quest by the name of “All along the Watchtower” included in a Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG) called World of Warcraft. The game has several pop culture references, including this one. This particular quest is no longer available, since the area in which it originally played out has since been altered.

There are other ways to use this phrase as well. If someone has been working towards a particular goal all along, he or she has been pushing toward that outcome throughout the life of the project, or since it began. There is another similar phrase often used in this context, “All along the line.” This basically means in every phase or segment of the process.

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