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What Does "To Each Their Own" Mean?

"To each their own" reflects the understanding that different people have different tastes, such as with TV shows.
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  • Written By: Laura Metz
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 31 August 2014
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“To each their own” is an English idiom signifying that everyone is entitled to his or her own preferences. The phrase is grammatically incorrect because the singular pronoun “each” conflicts with the plural pronoun “their,” so many people use the version “to each his own.” Variations on the saying are heard primarily in the United States, England, and Australia, but it may have originated from a Latin phrase.

This idiom is commonly used when the speaker disagrees with another person’s choice, but does not think the point is worth arguing. For example, someone might say “I hate that television show, but he watches every single episode. To each their own!” In other words, the speaker thinks another’s opinion is ridiculous, strange, or just wrong, but recognizes the other person has a right to his or her own opinion.

Some linguists think the idiom is derived from the Latin phrase “suum cuique pulchrum est,” which means “to each, his own is beautiful.” In other words, every person thinks his belongings and his opinions are beautiful and right. A simple example is that every mother thinks her baby is the most beautiful baby ever born. Others may disagree, but each mother insists that hers is the best.

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This is one of many phrases criticized for its improper use of the pronoun “their.” Grammatically, “to each their own” is incorrect, because “each” is singular, while “their” is plural. Since English does not have a personal pronoun that is both singular and gender neutral, many speakers use the plural gender neutral pronoun “their” instead of the more bulky phrase “his or her.”

In some areas, the saying “each to his own” is more common. A similar statement is “there’s no accounting for taste,” and the idiomatic phrase “whatever floats your boat” and its many adaptations also carry the same meaning. All these sayings are used to signify that everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion, even if the speaker disagrees.

An advertising campaign entitled “To Each Their Own,” further popularized the idiom when it was launched in the spring of 2011 by the American Honda Motor Company, Inc. The slogan was intended to emphasize that the company has many different options, so every person can find a car that he or she likes. Although the commercials were generally well received, some reviewers criticized them for their incorrect grammar.

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