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six

[siks]
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noun
  1. a cardinal number, five plus one.
  2. a symbol for this number, as 6 or VI.
  3. a set of this many persons or things.
  4. a playing card, die face, or half of a domino face with six pips.
  5. Cricket. a hit in which the ball crosses the boundary line of the field without a bounce, counting six runs for the batsman.Compare boundary(def 3).
  6. an automobile powered by a six-cylinder engine.
  7. a six-cylinder engine.
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adjective
  1. amounting to six in number.
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Idioms
  1. at sixes and sevens,
    1. in disorder or confusion.
    2. in disagreement or dispute.
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Origin of six

before 900; Middle English six, sex, Old English siex, syx, seox, sex; cognate with Dutch zes, Low German ses, German sechs, Old Norse sex, Gothic saihs, Latin sex, Greek héx, Sanskrit ṣaṣ
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for at sixes and sevens

six

noun
  1. the cardinal number that is the sum of five and oneSee also number (def. 1)
  2. a numeral, 6, VI, etc, representing this number
  3. something representing, represented by, or consisting of six units, such as a playing card with six symbols on it
  4. Also called: six o'clock six hours after noon or midnight
  5. Also called: sixer cricket
    1. a stroke in which the ball crosses the boundary without bouncing
    2. the six runs scored for such a stroke
  6. a division of a Brownie Guide or Cub Scout pack
  7. at sixes and sevens
    1. in disagreement
    2. in a state of confusion
  8. knock someone for six informal to upset or overwhelm someone completely; stun
  9. six of one and half a dozen of the other or six and two threes a situation in which the alternatives are considered equivalent
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determiner
    1. amounting to sixsix nations
    2. (as pronoun)set the table for six
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Related formsRelated prefixes: hexa-, sex-

Word Origin

Old English siex; related to Old Norse sex, Gothic saihs, Old High German sehs, Latin sex, Greek hex, Sanskrit sastha

Six

noun
  1. Les Six (le) a group of six young composers in France, who from about 1916 formed a temporary association as a result of interest in neoclassicism and in the music of Satie and the poetry of Cocteau. Its members were Darius Milhaud, Arthur Honegger, Francis Poulenc, Georges Auric, Louis Durey, and Germaine Tailleferre
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Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for at sixes and sevens

six

n.

Old English siex, six, sex, from Proto-Germanic *sekhs (cf. Old Saxon and Danish seks, Old Norse, Swedish, and Old Frisian sex, Middle Dutch sesse, Dutch zes, Old High German sehs, German sechs, Gothic saihs), from PIE *s(w)eks (cf. Sanskrit sas, Avestan kshvash, Persian shash, Greek hex, Latin sex, Old Church Slavonic sesti, Polish szesc, Russian shesti, Lithuanian szeszi, Old Irish se, Welsh chwech).

Six-shooter, usually a revolver with six chambers, is first attested 1844; six-pack of beverage containers is from 1952, of abdominal muscles by 1995. Six of one and half-a-dozen of the other "little difference" is recorded from 1833. Six-figure in reference to hundreds of thousands (of dollars, etc.) is from 1840. Six feet under "dead" is from 1942.

Phrase at sixes and sevens originally was "hazarding all one's chances," first in Chaucer, perhaps from dicing (the original form was on six and seven); it could be a corruption of on cinque and sice, using the French names (which were common in Middle English) for the highest numbers on the dice. Meaning "at odds, in disagreement or confusion" is from 1785, perhaps via a notion of "left unsettled."

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

at sixes and sevens in Culture

at sixes and sevens

In a state of confusion or disorder: “Trying to cram for this math test has me all at sixes and sevens.”

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The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with at sixes and sevens

at sixes and sevens

Confused, disorganized, disorderly, as in We've just moved in, and the office is still at sixes and sevens, or The new college admissions tests were poorly explained, leaving the students at sixes and sevens. This ancient term is thought to come from a game of dice in which throwing a six or seven had a particular significance. The name of the game has been lost, but most likely betting on such a throw was very risky, denoting disorder and confusion. [Late 1300s]

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six

In addition to the idioms beginning with six

  • six feet under
  • six of one, half a dozen of the other

also see:

  • at sixes and sevens
  • deep six
  • Joe six-pack
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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.