at sixes and sevens

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Unknown, though it may have originated from the game of hazard and the Old French cinc (five) and sis (six), the riskiest numbers to shoot for, which were misheard and folk-etymologized into English as "six" and "seven".


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Prepositional phrase[edit]

at sixes and sevens

  1. (idiomatic) In a state of confusion.
    Synonym: all sixes and nines
    • 1912, Arthur Quiller-Couch, chapter 23, in Poison Island:
      Oh, what a racket! And everything on deck apparently at sixes and sevens. Mail-bags and passengers mixed up in every direction.
  2. (idiomatic, of people or groups) In a state of dispute or disagreement.
    Synonym: at loggerheads
    • 1911, Jack London, chapter 6, in Adventure:
      Her outlook on life was so different from what he conceived a woman's outlook should be, that he was more often than not at sixes and sevens with her.
    • 1976, Tim Rice, "Don't Cry For Me Argentina":
      All you will see is a girl you once knew, although she's dressed up to the nines, at sixes and sevens with you.