Person A tried to catch a falling patio door and ended up losing a fingertip, a nail, and a broken finger joint as the door slammed his fingers against the dock plate. He went to the ER afterwards and had plastic surgery. Person B then asked him whether the nail will grow back or not and he responded:

Plastic surgeon said I should have half a nail when all is said and done. My first three fingers should be about level from what I can tell.

From what I looked up the phrase when all is said and done have more than one meaning and the ones I found are as follows. They all seem applicable, but is there one that's most appropriate to the context? Or does it mean something else that I did not find?

  1. when everything is considered
  2. when everything is finished and settled (I'm guessing settle here means to decide or arrange something finally?)
  3. in the end; ultimately
  4. used when you are about to tell someone the most important fact in a situation

Another question I have is, when he said his first three fingers should be about level from what he can tell, what does he mean by level?

From OALD, two senses of level that I think relates to the context are:

  1. having a flat surface that does not slope
  2. having the same height, position, value, etc. as something

However, both senses doesn't seem to make sense to me because I figured fingertips are curved right? and only one of his first three fingers had a fingertip torn off. And certainly all first three fingers cannot have the same height if I understood definition 2 correctly. So what does he mean?

closed as not a real question by FumbleFingers, Kristina Lopez, MetaEd, Kate Gregory, tchrist May 1 '13 at 2:27

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  • 3
    Any (or all) of the definitions for When all is said and done apply. I guess level means that the three fingers affected will look the same length. – Andrew Leach Apr 30 '13 at 15:36
  • 4
    It's a "clumsy" usage, in that the literal meaning of when all is said and done doesn't fit very well in the context of a series of plastic surgery interventions (OP's definition #2 is probably the best "paraphrase"). The usage of "level" is also stretching things a bit - he means the tips of three of his fingers will reach to about where they would in a normal hand (but actually, fingertip ends aren't "level" on a normal hand). Too Localised. – FumbleFingers Apr 30 '13 at 15:38
  • I read “level” to mean the same length (like @AndrewLeach). I would have used the word even in that context. – Bradd Szonye Apr 30 '13 at 18:48

"When all is said and done" in this context would mean: when all the medical procedures are completed and the Person has recovered. This is more of a conversational use of the phrase.

"Level", as suggested by others in comments, would mean the same length of the three fingers (typically people have the first three fingers of different lengths, and some have first and third finger of same length). That's the context of why the end result would be called as "level".

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