Sixes and Sevens
(All). Illassorted; not matched, higgledy-piggledy.
To be at sixes and sevens.
Spoken of things, it means in confusion; spoken of persons, it
means in disagreement or hostility “Six, yea seven,” was a Hebrew
phrase meaning an indefinite number, hence we read in Job (v. 19), “He
[God] shall deliver thee in six troubles, yea in seven,” etc. What is
indefinite is confused. Our modern phrase would be five or six things
here, and five or six things there, but nothing in proper order.
Old Odcombs odness makes not thee uneven,
Nor carelessly set all at six and seven.
Taylor: Workes, ii. 71 (1630).
Long and short sixes. Certain dip candles, common in the first half
of the nineteenth century. Long sixes were those eight inches long,
short sixes were thicker and about five inches long. Called sixes
because six went to a pound.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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