In one of my posts ("most of the children" vs. "most children"), one answer says

"most children", on the other hand generally implies you are talking about "most children in general". That is, of all possible children (in the area, in the state, in the world, etc), most of then are from the Chinese community.

what does "of all" mean there, is that some kind of omitting?

Oxford Dictionary gives this definition

Denoting the least likely or expected example.

and this example

‘Jordan, of all people, committed a flagrant foul’

Jordan is the least likely of what?

Another example comes from a popular song "Of All the Things by Dusty Springfield"

Of all the things I've ever done, finding you will prove to be the most important one

This is the only one I can guess its meaning, that is, among all the things a guy has ever done, finding their true love is the most important one. However, I still don't understand the pattern of "of all".

Could someone please give a hint?

1 Answer 1


Your first example sentence doesn't mean anything more than "most children in this area are of Chinese descent." I don't think it's a good example of the use of "of all".

The second example implies that Jordan was considered less likely than all other people to commit a foul. This is probably an exaggeration, but that is what it means. This is a rhetorical usage of "of all", that accords with the Oxford dictionary definition you cited.

The last example of "of all" you mentioned, the one you understand, is a simple literal usage. The literal meaning is "among all".

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