The full quote comes from a book dedication:

To every man and woman in the world,

for all but writing this book for me

Is it saying

  1. 'Thanks everyone for everything except for writing this book, which I did myself'?
  2. 'Thanks every man and woman for virtually writing this book for me'?
  3. Something else

all but xxxx means "practically" in this instance. It's a little bit stronger than "very nearly" as defined at M-W because the author is being self-deprecating, implying that for all practical purposes, by living their lives and doing what they variously did, the people of the world wrote the book for him, and that turning his story into words was the least part of the effort.


To every man and woman in the world

Everyone -- all of humanity

for all but writing this book for me

"All but" is an idiom, meaning achieving (literally or figuratively) most of the activity or state described. Eg (source):

Fundamentalism is a religious movement that seemed all but dead after its heyday in the 1920s but that has shown rather amazing new strength and appeal

And (source):

Now all but useless, these facilities go on draining the railroads in property taxes and in wages for stationmasters and telegraphers.

The implication is that all of humanity effectively wrote the book, and the author only "channeled" humanity to write the words down.


To every man and woman in the world,

To everyone

for all but writing this book for me

for doing everything you did for me, except writing the book for me.
for all that you have done.
for basically doing everything for me except writing this book.

All together:
I am so grateful that everyone did so much for me.
Everyone did so much for me (except literally write this book).

  • Is the author clearly trying to say something that I'm not getting perhaps? I'm asking because had the second line been "for all that you have done" it would be completely different, that is, no mention of the writing of the book. For context, the book is satire. – Ao Lin Jun 1 '16 at 23:59

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