This context comes from the movie "The Aviator" by Martin Scorsese.

It's a scene in which Katharine Hepburn And Howard Hughes arrive on a plane to Howard's house, after a date. Katherine kisses him unexpectedly and they start to take off their clothes and move to Howard's study.

Kate: What room do you like?

Howard: My study.

Kate: Take me there ...

(She kisses him again ... they kiss as he leads her through the house ... they float through the house, little kisses and embraces along the way ...)

Howard: You're the tallest woman I know ...

Kate: And all sharp elbows and knees, beware •..

Is this an idiom such as one of these?

-(spoken) used for showing that you are considering the whole of a situation I thought we’d go for a ride, with it being nice weather and all. (Macmillan dictionary)

-a. British informal as well; too

and you can take that smile off your face and all(Collins Dictionary)

  • The cited usage is probably pretty much a "one-off" suited to the specific context. But it's modeled on the well-established BrE usage I'm all fingers and thumbs (AmE all thumbs). Commented Jan 18, 2023 at 14:57
  • "And [I am] all sharp elbows.." is implied. Commented Jan 18, 2023 at 16:22

1 Answer 1


The use of 'all' in the words said by Kate is not the idiomatic use you have found in dictionaries.

We can informally use 'all' in expressions like 'he is all something' to mean that 'something is a very notable or prominent feature of him'. This can be permanent or temporary.

An angry tiger is all teeth and fangs.

A hedgehog is all prickles and points.

When I gave my mother her birthday gift, she was all smiles.

The burning house was all flames and smoke.

When the magician produced a rabbit from the hat, the children were all eyes.

Kate is a tall woman with long limbs, and, she jokingly and happily suggests, someone getting physically close to her (as Howard is about to) should be careful (beware) of getting banged or bruised by her elbows and knees. Possibly there is a deeper meaning (e.g. she is not a woman who tolerates foolishness or bad treatment).

having or seeming to have (some physical feature) in conspicuous excess or prominence

all legs

All definition and meaning (Merriam Webster Dictionary)

  • I might be wrong (working only with the given context, I haven't rewatched the actual scene), but my guess is there may be potential "hanky-panky" in the offing. So maybe Kate is issuing a warning that she's ready to use those "sharp" joints to fend off unwelcome amorous advances. Or maybe she would welcome the advances, but is apologising in advance for the fact that she might (unintentionally?) respond clumsily. The very common I'm all [fingers and] thumbs usage might steer us in that direction Commented Jan 18, 2023 at 15:03
  • 1
    @FumbleFingers - well, she has kissed him unexpectedly and they have started to take off their clothes and move to the room she asked him to choose, so I guess the aviator may feel he has been given clearance for take-off. Perhaps she is warning him not to take anything for granted. Commented Jan 18, 2023 at 15:20
  • @FumbleFingers - I think I may have to go and take a cold shower now. Commented Jan 18, 2023 at 15:21
  • Dang! If even reading about it here gets you overstimulated, you'd better make sure you have a big box of tissues if you actually watch the movie! Commented Jan 18, 2023 at 15:27
  • @FumbleFingers - it's just that I have a thing about elbows. Commented Jan 18, 2023 at 15:31

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