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He's been described as "an inspiration" to jihadists the world over, but this morning 29-year-old Australian man Musa Cerantonio is languishing in a jail cell in the Philippines. (Aussie ABC)

What does the highlighted phrase mean? Does it modify the previous noun, jihadists, and meaning: in the world that is over there?

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"the world over" can often be used to mean "all over the world" (i.e., "worldwide"). –  J.R. Jul 13 at 23:51

2 Answers 2

up vote 4 down vote accepted

This is a fixed phrase with two forms:

   all the world over
       the world over     (This version is more common.)

It's a literary postmodifier meaning "all over the world; everywhere; throughout the world".

Since it's a fixed phrase with rather unique grammar, we don't really need to analyze it. But if we do so anyway, we might say something like this: The preposition over takes (all) the world as a complement, even though it comes afterwards instead of before. This is unusual, but not unprecedented—it is similar to the preposition ago.

Since the entire phrase is a postmodifier, it follows what it modifies. In this case, that means it modifies the noun jihadists.

It does not mean "in the world that is over there".

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Thank you very much. After reading your answer, I now get yours in Random House #24:”over -> through a region, area, etc.: He was known the world over.“ –  Listenever Jul 13 at 23:32
    
And I get your explanation, 'prepositions following their complement in PP structure, in CGEL (p.631-2). Thanks a lot. –  Listenever Jul 13 at 23:38
    
It does not modify the noun! It modifies the prepositional phrase to jihadists. –  curiousdannii Jul 14 at 1:59

The world over is another way -now rather literary and clichéd- of saying all over the world, meaning “at places throughout the world”. It does modify jihadists.

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