Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I'm thinking of "a one-shot gun" vs. "an automatic machine gun", or vs. "an all-purpose tool" (although tool lacks oomph). Any ideas?

share|improve this question

3 Answers 3

up vote 3 down vote accepted

If it is a tool, then a swiss-army knife approach comes to mind.

If it is a person, then a Renaissance man or a polymath might work.

share|improve this answer
1  
Much of this depends on context, but the real McCoy (or, the real deal) might also be used, as in: "The band Looking Glass was a one-hit wonder, but the Rolling Stones are the real McCoy." –  J.R. Apr 7 '13 at 20:26

The opposite of a one-trick pony is (sadly mundanely) an all-rounder. 'Having more than one string to one's bow' is more picturesque.

The opposite of a one-trick wonder is an evergreen. One could probably find instances of perennial being used in an analogous nounal (metaphorical) way. Certainly it is used in this sense as an adjective: Perennial classic-rock favorite, ... , though the 'success' allusion is here added.

share|improve this answer
    
Except for perennial, these expressions are unfamiliar to me as a Canadian. Where are they used? –  Wayne Johnston Apr 7 '13 at 20:37
    
All-rounder: About 5,970,000 times (ignoring filtering out repeats) on Google. Mainly British, often in the sports (especially cricket) domain. Evergreen is harder to pin down for the metaphorical sense; 'the "evergreen" Tom Jones' and 'The first song you hear in the trailer is an evergreen.' are two Google hits, but the term used to be quite common on popular (not pop) music shows on the radio - mainly for old favourite numbers, but also for enduringly popular artistes (Cliff, the Stones). –  Edwin Ashworth Apr 7 '13 at 23:14

A person who is good at many things but not an expert in any particular field is a

Jack of all trades but master of none.

A tool could be multi-purpose, all-singing-all-dancing, [an ordinary tool] with knobs on. If you're into sci fi it could be a sonic screwdriver.

share|improve this answer
    
Your answer brings up a good point about "opposites". I would think that the opposite of a one-trick pony would be someone who is expert at many things, not just one. That said, there is often more than one valid way to make an opposite, which is why the opposite of light could be dark, or the opposite of light could be heavy. –  J.R. Apr 7 '13 at 23:26

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.