at sixes and sevens

EnglishEdit

EtymologyEdit

Unknown, though it may have originated from the game of hazard and the Old French cinc (five) and sis (six), the riskiest numbers to shoot for, which were misheard and folk-etymologized into English as "six" and "seven".

Prepositional phraseEdit

at sixes and sevens

  1. (idiomatic) In a state of confusion.
    • 1912, Arthur Quiller-Couch, Poison Island, ch. 23:
      Oh, what a racket! And everything on deck apparently at sixes and sevens. Mail-bags and passengers mixed up in every direction.
  2. (idiomatic, of people or groups) In a state of dispute or disagreement.
    • 1911, Jack London, Adventure, ch. 6:
      Her outlook on life was so different from what he conceived a woman's outlook should be, that he was more often than not at sixes and sevens with her.
    • 1976, Tim Rice, "Don't Cry For Me Argentina":
      All you will see is a girl you once knew, although she's dressed up to the nines, at sixes and sevens with you.

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Last modified on 20 October 2013, at 12:59