I'd like to know how widespread these statements are in the UK. In the movie 'In Bruges' Ralph Fiennes says to, a suddenly, soft-sounding Brendan Gleeson (employed as a hit-man by Fiennes):

You're coming on all-Gandhi,

a sarcastic remark ridiculing Gleeson's non-violent stance toward Colin Farrel (another hit-man).

I suppose a person who gushes about saving the people of the world would draw the comment:

You're coming over all-Mother Theresa.

Expressions of sweetness and light might draw the comment:

You're coming on all-Little Mary Sunshine.

Are these phrases a part of British slang or just one-off remarks by the movie characters? If they are part of British slang, do the names of the people change?

  • the simple answer to your question is "it is totally commonplace". and yes, you can use any name at the end, it is NOT one fixed set of names. – Fattie Jul 30 '14 at 15:20
  • note too, you can even say (example) "you're all Mother Teresa today..." or even "all Gandhi today are you??" – Fattie Jul 30 '14 at 15:26

Original quote

Harry: What are you f***ing doing?
Ken: I ain't fighting any more, Harry.
Harry: Alright. Then I'm blowing your f***ing head off. Oh don't come over all Gandhi! What are you doing?

  1. Coming over - To make a particular impression - which matches all three examples

  2. Coming on to seem aggressive; to impress people initially as very aggressive and assertive – is the likely inverted idiom for your Gandhi example:

It is highly likely that the two are mixed up and inverted for effect over time

All means "completely/nothing but" as in "Completely behaving like Mother Theresa"

a : completely taken up with, given to, or absorbed by became all attention
b : having or seeming to have (some physical feature) in conspicuous excess or prominence all legs
c : paying full attention with all ears

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It's a fairly common phrase in Britain, meaning you are showing an unusually large amount of the well known feature/trait/disposition of a specific person. It relies heavily on the person being named being known for a specific trait. It also relies on the person it is being said to/of NOT being known for that trait.

You're coming over all Larry Grayson[1] would suggest you are being unusually camp.

[1]Larry Grayson was a British comedian/TV presenter famous for being camp.

It can also be You've gone all ...

You've gone all Mike Tyson would suggest you are being unusually violent.

You can also use the same idea to refer to yourself

Sorry. I came over all a bit Hitler there (if you'd been shouting for a long time)

ETA: (after comments from Rupe)

I think the source of this phrase comes from another common [BrE?] phrase that people will say when they act out of character which is I don't know what has come over me.

The phrasing in question tells people what appears to have come over them.

In the first example (with a slight rephrasing) You're coming over all Gandhi. If someone who is normally aggressive, acts in a peaceful manner which is 'out of sorts' then one could reasonably expect them to say 'I don't know what's come over me (I'm not normally the peaceful, non-aggressive type)'.

In this "reversal" someone else is telling them what 'has come over them' - In this case it's Ghandi-like non-aggression and that trait has enveloped them completely, hence the need for all, the all applies to you, not to famous person.

You've come over all Ghandi is the same as saying You are usually a violent person but in this instance your normal violent traits have been replaced by those of the famously non-violent person Mahatma Ghandi but I'm sure you'll be back to your old self in a few moments.

I think the Americans have a similar turn of phrase involving your ass. As pointed out by Rupe this is similar but not exactly the same.

I'm going to go all Chuck Norris on your ass

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  • I don't think the Hitler one is quite right. It sounds wrong with both "all" and "a bit". And the your ass thing is a bit different because it needs to involve a target for the behaviour. – Rupe Jul 30 '14 at 8:50
  • @Rupe The a bit is optional and applies to the famous person while the all applies to the target, as in replacing the traits of the target entirely by those of the famous person (for a short period). I think in the case of Hitler you do need a bit to avoid the bits you wouldn't want to be seen as coming over all as. I've also heard it with like at the end You're coming over all Stephen Fry like. – Frank Jul 30 '14 at 9:16
  • What I'm saying is that "all a bit" sounds odd. I agree that "all Hitler" sounds a bit strong and one would probably use "a bit", but I think most people would replace the "all" and say "...came over a bit Hitler". – Rupe Jul 30 '14 at 9:18
  • @Rupe I think the all is key to the phrase, it indicates that your normal traits has been usurped by the trait of the famous person. I agree it sounds clumsy but the whole phrase is hardly a melody to the ears anyway. Maybe my answer needs something about the phrase 'I don't know what's come over me' - I assumed non-BrE speakers are aware of that phrase which is, I think, the root of this phrase. – Frank Jul 30 '14 at 9:22
  • hi rupe ... you'd have to READ IT OUT like Frank wrote it. I get what he's saying. It's like this: "You're coming over all ... a bit Hitler!" Frank, I do think such subtleties would confuse the OP. All he's asking is, it is a common form. Answer "yes". (You're coming over all anal etymologist here. :) ) – Fattie Jul 30 '14 at 15:23

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