It’s Glossophilia’s sixth birthday: celebrating “six”

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It’s Glosso’s sixth birthday. We’re all at sixes and sevens. To celebrate, here are all the phrases we can think of that contain the word six. Can you think of any more?

At sixes and sevens: In a state of total confusion or disarray. Earliest print citation: Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde, 1374. Origins here.

Six feet under: Dead and buried. Traditionally, in many cultures, a casket of human remains is buried six feet below ground.

Got / on / check your six: Got your back. The saying originated with World War I fighter pilots referencing the rear of an airplane in the six o’clock position (picturing themselves at the center of a clock face).

To hit / knock someone for six: To affect someone in a hard or devastating way.  From cricket, in which hitting the ball over the boundary scores six runs, the maximum for one shot.

Six of one, half a dozen of the other: There is little real difference between two alternatives.

Joe Six-pack: From Urban Dictionary: “Average American moron, IQ 60, drinking beer, watching baseball and CNN, and believe everything his President says.” From Merriam Webster: An ordinary man; specifically, a blue-collar worker. From the stereotype of a six-pack of beer as a workingman’s drink.

Six of the best: If you give someone six of the best, you punish them by hitting them, usually on their bottom with a long, thin stick (British & Australian historical, humorous). One explanation for its origins is here.

Six ways to/from/for Sunday: In every way possible; having done something completely; having addressed every alternative. World Wide Words explores its origins here.

(To give something) the deep six: Sending something to a place of disposal or abandonment. A nautical expression indicating a water depth of 6 fathoms (36 feet, 10.97 metres); “deep six” acquired its idiomatic definition because something thrown overboard at or greater than this depth would be difficult, if not impossible, to recover.


Origins of the word six: Old English siex, six, syx, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch zes and German sechs, from an Indo-European root shared by Latin sex and Greek hex


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