(Ang.-Sax, ende, verb endian.)
At my wits' end. At a standstill how to proceed farther; at a non-plus. He is no end of a fellow. A capital chap; a most agreeable companion; an A 1 [A one] (q.v.). He is an “all round” man, and therefore has no end.
To be [one's] end. The cause or agent of [his] death.
“This apoplexie will be his end.”
Shakespeare: 2 Henry IV., iv. 4.
To begin at the wrong end. To attempt to do something unmethodically. This is often done in education, where children are taught grammar before they are taught words. No one on earth would teach his child to talk in such a manner. First talk anyhow, and when words are familiar, teach the grammar of sentences. The allusion may be to thread wound on a card or bobbin; if anyone attempts to unwind it at the wrong end, he will entangle the thread and be unable to unwind it.
To come to the end of one's tether. To do all that one has ability or liberty to do. The allusion is to an animal tied to a rope; he can graze only so far as his tether can be carried out.
To have it at my finger's end. To be perfectly au fait; to remember perfectly, and with ease; tanquam unguis scire. The allusion is to work done with the fingers (such as knitting), which needs no thought after it has become familiar.
To have it on [or at ] the tip of my tongue. (See Tip Of My Tongue.) A rope's end. A short length of rope bound at the end with thread, and used for punishing the refractory. A shoemaker's end. A length of thread pointed with a bristle, and used by shoemakers.
My latter end. At the close of life. “At the latter end,” towards the close.
“At the latter end of a dinner.”
Shakespeare: All's Well, etc., ii. 5.
On end. Erect.
To put an end to. To terminate or cause to terminate. West end, East end, etc. The quarter or part of a town east or west of the central or middle part.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894