Last modified on 18 September 2014, at 17:04

to a T

EnglishEdit

Alternative formsEdit

EtymologyEdit

The origins of this phrase are uncertain, but it has been observed in print since at least 1889, and likely was around well before that. The potentially related phrase "to a tittle" is found in a 1607 play, The Woman Hater by Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher ("I'll quote him to a tittle"). The T in the phrase to a T is likely the first letter of a word, with tittle being the most likely source.

  • Other theories with little evidence point to golf tees, for their small size; this may have at least influenced the alternate form to a tee. Some speculate a relationship with T-square, a measuring device introduced around the turn of the century. Others claim the expression refers to the correct completion of the letter t by crossing it.

AdverbEdit

to a T (not comparable)

  1. (idiomatic) Precisely; exactly; perfectly; with great attention to detail.
    The announcement of the political endorsement was timed to a T.
    • 1868, Ann Sophia Stephens, Doubly False
      That accounts for my having the dress, but it don't account for the piece that you left sticking to the rose-bush under Mrs. Lander's bed-room winder, which piece I took off that morning, and which piece I matched with the dress after you pitched it at me over them bannisters; it was an awful scragly tear, and it fitted to a T.

TranslationsEdit