3

   "Welcome back, Mr. Potter, welcome back."
   Harry didn't know what to say. Everyone was looking at him. The old woman with the pipe was puffing on it without realizing it had gone out. Hagrid was beaming.
   Then there was a great scraping of chairs and the next moment, Harry found himself shaking hands with everyone in the Leaky Cauldron.
   "Doris Crockford, Mr. Potter, can't believe I'm meeting you at last."
   "So proud, Mr. Potter, I'm just so proud."
   "Always wanted to shake your hand –– I'm all of a flutter."
(Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone)

There seem to be not a few ‘all of a Noun’ phrases –– all of a dither, all of a heap, all of a jump, all of a muddle. Is ‘all of a’ a kind of determiner?

2

In these constructions, all is an adverb = “entirely”. The remaining of a Y piece is an ordinary prepositional phrase with adjectival force. The collocation ascribes the condition expressed by the object of of to the noun modified.

So to say “I'm all of a flutter” means “I’m completely in a state of flutter”.

I’ve never encountered the construction without all, but it is closely related to the ‘genitive of quality’, which ascribes a quality rather than a condition—a man of means, a woman of tact. The AmE equivalent employs inI'm all in a flutter/muddle/dither/&c—and this is used without all: She’s always in a muddle about something.

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