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.

idiom: all sixes and sevensOrigin: 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

Accent Pros has a continuing series on accent reduction tips, including common English phrases and American idioms. Be sure to check out other accent reduction blog posts to find your favorites. Ready for a complimentary accent reduction tutorial or a free accent screening? Check out our on-line accent reduction courses available to students with accent reduction goals all over the world. For consistent access to our idioms series and other accent reduction tips. Like us on Facebook or Follow us on Twitter