to a T

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English[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]

Etymology[edit]

The origins of this phrase are uncertain, but it has been observed in print since at least 1889, and likely was around well before that. The potentially related phrase "to a tittle" is found in a 1607 play, The Woman Hater by Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher ("I'll quote him to a tittle"). The T in the phrase to a T is likely the first letter of a word, with tittle being the most likely source.

  • Other theories with little evidence point to golf tees, for their small size; this may have at least influenced the alternate form to a tee. Some speculate a relationship with T-square, a measuring device introduced around the turn of the century. Others claim the expression refers to the correct completion of the letter t by crossing it.

Adverb[edit]

to a T (not comparable)

  1. (idiomatic) Precisely; exactly; perfectly; with great attention to detail.
    The announcement of the political endorsement was timed to a T.
    The colors of your suit fit you to a T.

Translations[edit]