A well-managed organization, as in The camp director runs a tight ship. This metaphoric term alludes to a ship in which the ropes are taut and by extension the ship is strictly managed. [Second half of 1900s]
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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.