Some people imagine that the expression should be “all tolled” as if items were being ticked off to the tolling of a bell, or involved the paying of a toll; but in fact this goes back to an old meaning of “tell”: “to count.” You could “tell over” your beads if you were counting them in a rosary. “All told” means “all counted.”

This older meaning of “tell” is the reason that people who count money out behind bank windows are called “tellers.”

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