Imagine for a moment you are sitting in your cubicle at work and you overhear a conversation: should your company should continue to sell to the same consumer base, thus ensuring a marginal profit, or try to go after a different demographic. Due to the inherent risk and weight of this decision, expressions such as “all sixes and sevens” are being thrown around. Do you actually know what this term means? The origin behind it? In today’s business environment an unfamiliarity with common idioms related to your industry can cause you to become viewed as antiquated. Read on to increase your general knowledge of American business idioms.
Idiom: All Sixes and Sevens
Definition: A state of confusion or disorder; in a confusing, badly organized, or difficult situation.
Example: The upcoming audit caused everything to be at sixes and sevens at work today.
Origin: The phrase was originally stated as ‘to set on six and seven’, which comes from the game of dice. This means carelessly leaving a player’s entire fortune to chance. The earliest printed citation was in 1374, in Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde.
As for the term ‘at sixes and sevens’ itself, the earliest printed citation was in 1670 in Il Cardinalismo di Santa Chiesa by Leti. Of course, leaving a person’s fortune to chance could cause chaos and disarray, which would justify the expression’s current meaning.
Accent Pros idioms series
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