Context: academic, resume-like document detailing a person's achievements.

"The institute has attracted people from all over the University"

Does the above sound okay, or is the "from all over" an informal phrase?

I've found a dictionary entry that "all over the place" is informal when it's used non-literally, and haven't found any mention of the actual "from all over" being informal, but it feels vaguely informal to me. Vaguely. Can anyone weigh in?

  • What is centre XYZ? What is the organization? You need to edit your question and include full context. Otherwise, your question might be closed for lack of research or "proof-reading request". – user140086 Nov 19 '15 at 11:51
  • @Rathony Better? – Alicja Z Nov 19 '15 at 11:55
  • I want to see what our aficionados have to say about this before I toss in my nickel. "... and the whole damn faculty suddenly crawled out of the woodwork to gawk at it." – Ricky Nov 19 '15 at 12:01
  • It would be a bit more formal to say "from many areas of the university", "from all corners of the university", or some such. – Hot Licks Dec 19 '15 at 14:48

Yes, this seems fine. The former is not attached to informal language whereas the latter can be.

To say 'from all over' is perfectly normal to describe what you have written under that context and it is not an informal phrase.

It's a way to express something or someone coming in from numerous directions, many different or varied places and so on and so forth.

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ODO goes further in its claim for the informality of the usage:

all over 2 informal


there were bodies all over

I radioed in that there was oil all over, but I got through it and we finished in one piece.

The past pupils came from all over to join in the celebrations.

But it doesn't include prepositional phrase examples like 'They came from all over the country' as being in the informal register.

It's interesting that CDO seems to be the only other dictionary that even mentions informality: another British usage geared work. Though Collins doesn't.

I think that '... from all over the country' is perfectly acceptable in any register,

'... from all over the university' might be considered informal but only in BrE, and

'... from all over.' might well be considered informal but again probably only in BrE.

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  • Thanks for quoting ODO... I wonder if the difference is whether the difference in formality is between "(from) all over X" versus "(from) all over", with the former being considered more formal? That said, I'm curious why you feel "from all over the country" would always be considered acceptable, while "from all over the university" might not be. Isn't it just a difference of scale? – Alicja Z Dec 19 '15 at 19:27
  • (1) I'd say that none of the above are in a formal register; they're all fine in conversation. We're in the normal ... informal half of the spectrum. // I think the 'on the map' metaphor (from all over ...) feels more appropriate when confined to a more obviously 2D-ish (country, nation, area, district ...), or quasi 2D-ish (world, globe) than institution-associated (hospital, university, school, mill, city hall) referent. (Though 'universe' may be a 3-D exception; all across is often a more favoured choice here and for 'state' say). – Edwin Ashworth Dec 19 '15 at 22:26

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