- in disorder or confusion.
- in disagreement or dispute.
Origin of six
British Dictionary definitions for at sixes and sevens (1 of 2)
- a stroke in which the ball crosses the boundary without bouncing
- the six runs scored for such a stroke
- in disagreement
- in a state of confusion
- amounting to sixsix nations
- (as pronoun)set the table for six
Word Origin for six
British Dictionary definitions for at sixes and sevens (2 of 2)
Word Origin and History for at sixes and sevens
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."
Culture definitions for at sixes and sevens
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.”
Idioms and Phrases with at sixes and sevens (1 of 2)
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]
Idioms and Phrases with at sixes and sevens (2 of 2)
In addition to the idioms beginning with six
- six feet under
- six of one, half a dozen of the other
- at sixes and sevens
- deep six
- Joe six-pack