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#1
Old 03-30-2002, 08:33 PM
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Are you "all set"? A question about an American regionalism.

You are in a restaurant. You are imbibing a beverage with your meal. The server unit approaches you and asks you if you require another beverage, or if the one you have is sufficient for your needs at the moment. You have not finished the beverage that you have, and are not close enough to finishing it to warrant getting another one as long as the server is there. What do you say?

My brother and I have been known in these circumstances to say, "No, thanks. I'm all set." We both grew up in New York but moved to the greater Boston area as adults, me 15 years ago and he about 12 years ago. We don't always necessarily say this...one could say "I'm good", or "No, thanks", but we do occasionally say "No, I'm all set" because we are indeed, at that particular point in time, all set, at least with respect to our beverage needs.

Apparently people rarely if ever say this phrase ("all set") in other parts of the country. Brother was down in Nawlins at Super Bowl time, and a colleague of his from Philadelphia insisted that the phrase was a New England regionalism that is not used in other parts of the country. (According to him in Philadelphia in these circumstances they reply "I do not require an additional beverage at this time." Yeah, right.) I also recall a family get-together from a few years back where distant relatives from Ireland responded with gales of laughter when one of us declined another beer by indicating that we were "all set".

So, how about it. Have you ever said this phrase under this or similar circumstances? Have you never said it, but imagine a person could and it wouldn't sound funny? Or does it sound so strange to you that you would really notice if someone else said it? If you could indicate where you are from and/or where you grew up, if relevant, it would be helpful. I would also like to hear from English speakers in other countries.

Basically, my brother and I would be comforted if this was at least a "Northeast" thing rather than a New England thing. Even after all these years, neither he nor I consider ourselves Bostonians.
#2
Old 03-30-2002, 08:40 PM
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You're all set with all set from Lake Ontario to the Ohio River. Unless your waitress is from Philadelphia, apparently.
#3
Old 03-30-2002, 08:44 PM
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I grew up in SE Michigan/suburban Detroit and have lived in NE Ohio/Suburban Cleveland for 20 years. "All set" is the phrase that I use in the situation you describe. Most of the quirky phrases that I've adopted in my life came from my Mom who grew up in Indianapolis and spent a lot of her childhood on farms in Southern Indiana, so I doubt that I picked it up from the Northeast (unless you are describing the Great Lakes, New York, and New England (plus Pennsylvania?) as the Northeast).
#4
Old 03-30-2002, 08:54 PM
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You're all set over here in Chicago, as well.
#5
Old 03-30-2002, 08:58 PM
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BTW, the Word Detective does not have an explanation for "all set" and apparently assumes that it is sufficiently well known that he uses it to explain "Bob's your Uncle."

A Google search on 'phrase "all set"' turns up a couple of references to "all set" being from (or originating in) New England, but, if true, it appears to have passed into the common parlance a long time ago.
#6
Old 03-30-2002, 09:01 PM
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You're all set here in St. Louis.
#7
Old 03-30-2002, 09:02 PM
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Grew up in Northern Virginia, but had great exposure to Southern Virginia. Lived in Northern Ohio the last 32 years.

I use the phrase myself. Don't think I picked it up just since Northern Ohio. Pretty sure I used it in Virginia.

Just to provide some etymological background, it is first cited by Mathews from 1844 thusly:
Quote:
Each teamster vies with his fellow...and it is a matter of boastful pride to be the first to cry out ---'All's set!'
Pretty definitive that it's been out there for a long time. Hard to believe that those teamsters were confined to the Northeast.
#8
Old 03-30-2002, 10:06 PM
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It's not uncommon, and doesn't get odd looks, in Arizona. Then again, as the Arizona Times is so fond of saying, almost everyone in Arizona (with the apparent exception of my family) is from somewhere else, so most likely it just came with those folks.
#9
Old 03-30-2002, 11:10 PM
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I'm from Quebec, near the border with Vermont, and I've heard this phrase, and used it, many times. Not all that uncommon.
#10
Old 03-30-2002, 11:35 PM
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I was born and raised in Buffalo, and I'm all set.
#11
Old 03-31-2002, 01:01 AM
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"Are you all set here?" is not the most common thing I've heard in that case. I would expect to hear the waitress say, "Are you O.K. here?" But I would understand the phrase "Are you all set here?" without any problem, and I've heard it used a few times. I grew up in Ohio and have lived mostly in Maryland since leaving there. "All set" to me usually means "in good shape and ready to go," which is not the same thing as "having the things I requested."
#12
Old 03-31-2002, 01:05 AM
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what's so funny about it?

I'm curious. Did your Irish relatives give any inling as to why the thought it was so humorous? Would it have meant something risque or have some other alternate meaning to them that they could not control themselves?

I'm from New York and my parents were both born in Ireland and I lived in Ireland for a few years. I have never had any problem with this phrase.

"Keep your pecker up" on the other hand...
#13
Old 03-31-2002, 02:42 AM
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Comprehensible in California. That's pretty far from New England speak, so I conclude your friend is wrong.
#14
Old 03-31-2002, 03:04 AM
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What Wendell Wagner had to say pretty much covers the way it is in Mississippi. I've lived in Ohio, Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, Virginia, California and in all of them they wouldn't think "all set" was funny and would understand the meaning.

Now when it comes to what you call a milk shake, it is a whole different story.
I said milk shake, not chocolate milk
#15
Old 03-31-2002, 10:00 AM
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I guess we're all set here.

Well, that is reassuring. I guess the Philadelphia guy was pulling my brother's leg, or else he didn't know what he was talking about. By the way, Wendell Wagner, "all set" is not what the waitperson says, it is one's reply to the question "Are you okay here?", or whatever.

Pop: re: the Irish relatives. No, they didn't say what they found so humorous, but they did giggle several times when they heard it. I guess it just sounded odd to their ears, a phrase they didn't hear often under those circumstances. My aunt who grew up in Ireland occasionally uses phrases that she grew up with that just sound odd to me, so maybe that was all it was. These particular relatives were rather elderly, in their 70s, so maybe it is a newer usage. I'm not sure what part of Ireland they are from.

It also occured to me that they were merely laughing at the idea that someone would refuse another beer.
#16
Old 03-31-2002, 12:31 PM
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I've lived in North Carolina all my 22 years and have said and heard this many times. I've also traveled a bit (west coast and Canada) and have never had anyone comment on it.

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#17
Old 03-31-2002, 01:54 PM
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Laughing Lagomorph writes:

> By the way, Wendell Wagner, "all set" is not what the
> waitperson says, it is one's reply to the question "Are you okay
> here?", or whatever.

I'm not sure why that matters. I'm accustomed to the waitress saying, "Are you O.K. here?", to which I usually reply, "Yes, I'm fine." For the waitress to say, "Are you all set here?" or for a customer to reply, "Yes, I'm all set" both strike me as something I wouldn't be too surprised to hear, but neither are quite the typical thing to say in my experience.
#18
Old 03-31-2002, 02:04 PM
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"All set" is a common expression in my lect meaning "ready to go". I don't commonly hear it meaning "adequately purveyed with food or drink".
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#19
Old 03-31-2002, 02:09 PM
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I would certianly say I'm set if the waitress or waiter asked if i needed anything else. But if they simply asked if I was "ok" then I would not respond with "all set."
#20
Old 03-31-2002, 03:01 PM
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Born and raised in a little Kentucky town of 2400 people, been livin in Ohio for 3 years.

Where I come from:

Generally, "All set" means: done or ready to go.
Usually the waiter asks, "How is everything?" not "Are you O.K.?"

"All set" is usually the conclusion at the end of a meal meaning, "Get me the bill, I'm outta here!"

Then again... I'd never trust a Kentuckian with a grammar question. I done think there ain't any set rules in KY.
#21
Old 03-31-2002, 03:32 PM
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In California, I don't believe this phrase would be incomprehensible. I don't believe it would be incomprehensible in Hooterville, either.

However, I do agree that "all set" often seems to indicate that you are "all ready to go" or whatever.

Though in the context of being asked (in the middle of the meal) if you want another drink, "all set" would certainly be interpreted to mean that you are fine for the moment. I see no reason for any confusion.
#22
Old 03-31-2002, 03:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Wendell Wagner
Laughing Lagomorph writes:

> By the way, Wendell Wagner, "all set" is not what the
> waitperson says, it is one's reply to the question "Are you okay
> here?", or whatever.

I'm not sure why that matters. I'm accustomed to the waitress saying, "Are you O.K. here?", to which I usually reply, "Yes, I'm fine." For the waitress to say, "Are you all set here?" or for a customer to reply, "Yes, I'm all set" both strike me as something I wouldn't be too surprised to hear, but neither are quite the typical thing to say in my experience.
O.K., this is getting confusing, but all I meant was that I don't remember a waitperson ever asking the question "Are you all set?". As you say, they usually say something like "Are you O.K. here?", or "How is everything?".

Reading your first post in this thread, it seemed like you thought that the waitperson was asking the first way, which would not be typical in my experience either. But the reply seems to be typical, at least to some people.
#23
Old 03-31-2002, 04:26 PM
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Hell,

we've been "all set" for ages down here, Seems like all y'all have been too. In fact, it seems like we've all been set nationwide for as long as we can remember.
I think your friend owes you a beer. While your at the bar, you might want to let him know that he should get out more often.
He could take a train.
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#24
Old 03-31-2002, 04:29 PM
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Oh, yeah....

one more thing, round here it's common to hear the waiter/waitress ask "Y'all set?" right before she goes to get the bill.
#25
Old 03-31-2002, 04:54 PM
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This is a common phrase used in Washington state, so I doubt you'll have problems.
#26
Old 03-31-2002, 05:40 PM
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I live in New York. I was born in Seattle. I grew up there and in DC. I went to college in Minnesota. My mother was from Austin (Tx) and my father grew up in Grand Forks, ND. My step-mom and step-sisters grew up in western Maryland. All of these people have used the phrase "I'm all set" to mean "I don't need anything else" in all of these places and many more. I have never once seen even the slightest of double-takes in response.

LL, you're friend's a :wally!

And besides, he's from Philly, where they've never learned how to speak.
#27
Old 03-31-2002, 06:34 PM
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Being that I was born and bred in West Texas, only moving to Central Texas, I would never use all set quite the way you described. I would and have said it meaning "Lets get on outta heah," but using it concerning beverages is strange to me and I am pretty sure that is the first time I have heard it in this particular context.
#28
Old 04-01-2002, 07:32 AM
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So it seems that the phrase is not completly alien to most of you, although in some parts of the country (maybe Texas and the South) and possibly Canada as well...matt mcl is from Canada, right?...it generally means something like "I'm ready to go" so I run the risk of getting the check earlier than I wanted! I'll have to be more careful when I travel. I would still like to hear from some Brits, Aussies, or Kiwis, and maybe someone else from Ireland.
#29
Old 04-01-2002, 09:56 AM
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First time I heard it was in New England. While I understood the phrase, I'd never heard it used in Tennessee or upstate NY, in both places with a fairly cosmopolitan population. In fact, the day I heard myself using was a realization that my God, I'm becoming one of them, and will soon be asking for anotha' beeah from the bahtendah.

So my humble opinion is that I think it is more of a New England thing.
#30
Old 04-01-2002, 12:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by interface2x
You're all set over here in Chicago, as well.
I lived in Chicago for over 40 years (yes, that was past tense ), and it was common for waitresses in diners and informal restaurants to ask "Are you all set?," meaning "Do you need anything else?" In diners, they would often return immediately with the check.

However, it would be rare -- though certainly not unheard of -- for the customer to reply "Yes, thanks, we're all set."

It is far more common to use the phrase as an abbreviation of "all set to go," meaning "ready." Though that would usually be used in connection with something requiring elaborate preparations -- like getting dressed up for the evening -- rather than something more casual, like leaving a restaurant after a meal.

-- Beruang
#31
Old 04-01-2002, 02:13 PM
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I grew up in the Akron/Canton, Ohio area, and now live in central NY, and "All Set" is just fine wherever I've been. Them's Philly people are crazy.
#32
Old 04-01-2002, 05:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Beruang
It is far more common to use the phrase as an abbreviation of "all set to go," meaning "ready." Though that would usually be used in connection with something requiring elaborate preparations -- like getting dressed up for the evening -- rather than something more casual, like leaving a restaurant after a meal.
I grew up in the DC area and this would be my interpretation of the phrase. I think I've probably heard it used in the OP sense, but it wouldn't be particularly common.

As for the Irish relatives, I can't think of any particular reason why they would find it so funny - there's no other usage of "all set" here that I'm aware of. FWIW, in the same situation in Ireland (or at least in Dublin), the customer would most likely say "No, I'm grand".
#33
Old 04-01-2002, 07:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by FDISK
This is a common phrase used in Washington state, so I doubt you'll have problems.
Born in Washington state and lived here all my life and I don't think I have heard that phrase used mayby half a dozen times. My wife lived many years in upstate New York and said he heard it a lot there but not very often here. A regional accent would get more looks than saying 'all set'.
#34
Old 04-01-2002, 09:37 PM
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racer72 writes:

> My wife lived many years in upstate New York and said he
^^^ ^^
> heard it a lot there but not very often here.

So, racer72, you want to tell us about this relationship?

Laughing Lagomorph writes:

> O.K., this is getting confusing, but all I meant was that I don't
> remember a waitperson ever asking the question "Are you all
> set?". As you say, they usually say something like "Are you O.K.
> here?", or "How is everything?".

It seems to me from other people's responses in this thread that this is not consistently true. It does not seem to be true that "all set" is more common in the question asked by a waitress than in the answer given by a customer. In any case, as I think about it now, it seems to me that the most common thing that I've heard waitresses say is the most obvious thing: "Do you need anything else?" While I would understand what it would mean for a customer to say, "Yes, I'm all set" (although I might find it a little confusing), I'm pretty sure I would never say it.

Can anyone figure out anything consistent about the pattern of use of this phrase? Except for the fact that it seems to be more common closer to New England, there seems to be a wide variation in other regions of the country as to whether it's the standard thing to say by either the waitress or the customer. Nearly everyone recognizes what it means, but they don't consistently think that it's the standard thing to say in those circumstances.
#35
Old 04-01-2002, 10:48 PM
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In California, I'm okay, you're okay.

In a casual restaurant, wait-person might say "Are you guys okay?" We'd say "We're okay!"
Okay?
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#36
Old 04-01-2002, 10:55 PM
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Umm, in that last post I was trying to underline "my wife" and "he" in racer72's quotation.
#37
Old 04-02-2002, 06:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Quercus
First time I heard it was in New England. While I understood the phrase, I'd never heard it used in Tennessee or upstate NY, in both places with a fairly cosmopolitan population. In fact, the day I heard myself using was a realization that my God, I'm becoming one of them, and will soon be asking for anotha' beeah from the bahtendah.

So my humble opinion is that I think it is more of a New England thing.
Oh, no. That's just what I was afraid of myself. I might next find myself rooting for the God-cursed Red Sox.

By the way, I lived in upstate New York from ages 7 to 22, and "cosmopolitan" is not the first word that springs to mind to describe its population...
#38
Old 04-02-2002, 08:15 AM
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FWIW, I grew up in South Jersey and lived in Philly and never knew anyone who didn't understand it. Can't say I tested everyone I met, though...
#39
Old 04-02-2002, 08:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by ruadh
... FWIW, in the same situation in Ireland (or at least in Dublin), the customer would most likely say "No, I'm grand".
Now, this might be a good reverse illustration of the "Irish relative" phenomenon. If I were at a party and I heard a person refuse a beer using this phrase, I would think it sounded funny. Not "wrong" or incomprehensible, and no double meaning, just not what I would be used to hearing someone say. And I just might start laughing if I heard 3 or 4 different people say it several times.
#40
Old 04-02-2002, 10:15 AM
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I grew up in Texas. I don't think I would ever say "I'm all set", but I understand it's meaning. I think the only place I've heard it used is in a restuarant, by a waiter or waitress. I think that I've only heard it used *right* after they bring the food...

"Let's see... I brought your spicy brown mustard, your diet coke with no ice, and your pizza with no cheese. Looks like you're all set..."

It kinda means "ready to start eating, because you have everything you need" to me, which incorporates a couple of different meaning of the phrase already tossed about.

Like, if I'd been eating a while and was nearly finished with the meal and a waitress asked "Are you all set?", I'd be totally confused. After a while, it turns into "You okay here?" and after you've overstayed your welcome "Anything else I can get for you?"
#41
Old 04-02-2002, 11:04 AM
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More beer please, I'm all set for it

I confirm that "all set" has no naughty or humourous meaning in Ireland. It is likely that the Irish relatives were laughing at something else.

If I said "I'm all set" for another beer, an Irish person might interpret that as meaning "I'm very ready to have another one" or "I've prepared myself to have another one". They might interpret it as an indication of great eagerness for more beer, and so find it funny.

The implication is that you are getting yourself "all set up" to drink more beer, and they might see that as a witty comment by you. I realise that Americans don't do real wit, particularly self-deprecating irony. * For this reason, you might not see it as humorous.

A great Irishman Oscar Wilde said the English and the Americans were two great nations divided by the same language. English and American should long ago have separated into two languages, like Portugese and Spanish. However, modern communication is dragging them reluctantly back together. I think this is a serious error of judgment.

BTW the above Wilde quote is often attributed to George Bernard Shaw, another Irishman. Don't waste posting time on this attribution. Oscar got it in print first, although he probably heard it in a Dublin pub. Every Irishman steals good quotes and passes them off as his own - that's what makes us so articulate.

*(For the uninitiated, irony is what you do to clothes, after you wash them in the cynic.)
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#42
Old 04-02-2002, 01:01 PM
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Whoops. My wife is definitly a she. I normally proof read my typing but every once in a while one slips by.
#43
Old 04-02-2002, 04:54 PM
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All Set

"All Set" is also a term used by auto mechanics.

You think it means:

"We've found the problem, and repaired it"

They really mean:

"We did something to your car, and now we want you to pay the bill and get lost".
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