English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

In Michael Gilleland's blog "Laudator Temporis Acti" - he had a post titled "When All Authorities Agree" and he quoted Cecil Torr from "Small Talk at Wreyland":

There is no stopping a mistake after it has started. In the preface to my Ancient Ships I gave the history of a blunder that was made by Scheffer in 1654, and is now in four authoritative books of reference. In fact, when I am told that all authorities agree, I feel certain that one of them has blundered, and the rest have followed him without inquiry.

Would anyone know when the phrase "all authorities agree" was first used? I Googled "when all authorities agree" and there were only 4 mentions of it. Does this phrase have a Greek/Latin or earlier original and was adopted in English?

share|improve this question
up vote 6 down vote accepted

"When all authorities agree" refers to the fact that all the experts on that area agree on one opinion or idea.

The author here is stating that when he is told that all the experts on an area agree, he usually is skeptical, the reason being that he thinks that

"... one of them has blundered, and the rest have followed him without inquiry.

It's not an expression, or idiom, or saying, just a normal phrase.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


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.