A few weeks before I had been an unknown school-teacher in Dayton, a little town in the mountains of Tennessee. Now I was involved in a trial reported the world over. (The Trial That Rocked the World by John Scopes)

Here's my question that I'm confused about the use of "reported the world over" in the latter sentence. I can roughly guess the meaning maybe is "the world knows the case", however, I don't what grammatical rule it conforms or what kind of collocation it is, especially when the "over" is placed like this.

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    "A trial which was reported all over the world." Feb 11, 2023 at 10:52
  • I see! Thank you for your answer!
    – Cold Hand
    Feb 11, 2023 at 11:18
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    The syntax works like this: "reported the world over" is a past-participial clause modifying "trial". The NP "the world over" is an adjunct of place in clause structure (i.e. a modifier in the VP). "Over" is an intransitive preposition as complement of "world".
    – BillJ
    Feb 11, 2023 at 13:44
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    I've seen analyses that would class 'over' here as a postposition, just as 'the whole night through' is a variant of 'through the whole night'. Feb 11, 2023 at 16:30
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    Postpositions are generally modifiers, but "over" is a complement here.
    – BillJ
    Feb 11, 2023 at 17:18

1 Answer 1


Collins explains

If you say that something happens or exists the world over, you mean that it happens or exists in every part of the world.

  • Some problems are the same the world over (1).
  • Governments the world over should do something about it (2).

As you can see in the examples, it can function as an adverbial of place (as in 1) or it can modify a noun (as in 2).

In your sentence

Now I was involved in a trial reported the world over.

the world over is an adverbial phrase of place modifying the verb reported. (Reported where? Everywhere in the world)

There is another EL&U question, What is the origin of the phrase - "the world over"?, where you can find out about the origin of this idiom.

  • I got it! Thank you very much!(^_^)
    – Cold Hand
    Feb 11, 2023 at 11:17
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    It might be helpful to the OP to mention that "over" is an intransitive preposition functioning as complement of "world".
    – BillJ
    Feb 11, 2023 at 13:42
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    @BillJ: I'm not convinced of that. "The world over" is adverbial, whereas "the world" alone is not; and you can't use other similar intransitive prepositions in this way (e.g. *"reported the world throughout"). So I think that "the world over" is actually a preposition phrase, with "over" being a transitive preposition and "the world" being its complement. (It's exceptional in English for prepositions to follow their complements, but it does happen: CGEL chapter 7 § 4.2 mentions notwithstanding, apart, aside, ago, and on.)
    – ruakh
    Feb 11, 2023 at 20:46
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    @ruakh Yes, those are the preps that follow their complement. But "over" is one of a number of preps mentioned on p613 of GCEL, which talks of it being very commonly found without a complement. On that analysis,"the world over" is an NP headed by "world" with the prep "over" as (intransitive) complement of the head. I agree that the NP is an adjunct (your adverbial) in clause structure.
    – BillJ
    Feb 12, 2023 at 9:32
  • @BillJ: I'm well aware that "over" often appears without a complement (I thought I already made that clear?), but that doesn't mean that that's the best analysis of the specific phrase "the world over".
    – ruakh
    Feb 12, 2023 at 18:56

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