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put one's house in order



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put one's house in order

  1. (literally) To clean and arrange in an orderly manner the furnishings and other contents of one's house.
    • 1914, Mary Roberts Rinehart, The Street of Seven Stars, ch. 13:
      First she had put her house in order, working deftly, her pretty hair pinned up in a towel—all in order but Peter's room. That was to have a special cleaning later.
    • 1998, Claudia L. Bushman, A Good Poor Man's Wife, →ISBN, p. 112 (Google preview):
      It took Harriet a full month or more each spring to put her house in order. Washing windows, arranging drawers, sweeping, and dusting were relatively simple tasks, amounting to two or three days' work in each room. It was the carpets that constituted the major chore.
  2. (idiomatic) To organize one's financial and other affairs, especially in preparation for a life-changing event.
    • :
      And when Ahithophel saw that his counsel was not followed, he saddled his ass, and arose, and gat him home to his house, to his city, and put his household in order, and hanged himself, and died, and was buried in the sepulchre of his father.
    • 1876, Anthony Trollope, The Prime Minister, ch. 14:
      But before doing so he thought it to be expedient to put his house in order, so that he might be able to make a statement of his affairs if asked to do so.
    • 1907, David Graham Phillips, The Second Generation, ch. 5:
      "I must put my house in order—in order. Draw up a will and bring it to me before five o'clock."
    • 2010 May 20, Agnes T. Crane and Christopher Swann, "U.S. Dollar a Haven, but for How Long?," New York Times (retrieved 3 Nov 2013):
      The message from the euro zone should be loud and clear: if lawmakers don't put their house in order, markets eventually will do it for them.