I think of this in the following context: when someone tries to be everything to everyone, they end up being nothing to nobody. That of course is a double negative, but I believe expresses the intent of what I am looking for very well. That is, you end up being the opposite of everything to everyone. Can anyone think of a opposite that would fit well in that phrase that is gramatically correct?

  • 1
    "Nothing to nobody" is exactly what you want, and is as grammatically "correct" as you need it to be. Sure, you could say "nothing to anybody" but it wouldn't have the same ring.
    – Robusto
    Mar 25, 2013 at 18:14
  • Yet "nothing to anybody" is grammatically and logically correct - "nothing to nobody" is grammatically correct but may not convey the intended meaning, as well as being logically meaningless.
    – user11752
    Mar 25, 2013 at 18:53

3 Answers 3


"If you try to be everything to everyone, you end up being nothing to anyone."

About anyone, Macmillan says:

anyone, pronoun: [usually in negatives or questions] used instead of "someone" when asking or saying whether there is even one person


“Complete nobody” probably is more common as an opposite to “everything to everyone” than is “Nothing to nobody”. Of course the logical opposites of “everything to everyone” include “everything to nobody” and “nothing to anyone” but as noted in Robusto's comment they don't sound as well.


You might consider universally underwhelming

Underwhelm: Fail to impress or make a positive impact on (someone); disappoint: "American voters seem underwhelmed by the choices for president".

Universally: By everyone; in every case: "progress is not always universally welcomed".

Universal disappointment is another that might fit, along with "unpopular disappointment" (but the latter doesn't have the same meaning as "universal").

"The President set himself out to be everything to everybody, but instead, he was a universal disappointment."

In most cases, the double negative in English is resolved into a positive. This is a case where "nothing to nobody" might be interpreted colloquially to have the meaning you are looking for. In formal writing though, it would be taken with disapproval.

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