“Dressed to the nines” has a well known etymology. See: http://www.wordorigins.org/index.php/site/dressed_to_the_nines/
Don’t know about the “sixes and sevens” part though.
“Dressed to the nines” has a well known etymology.
Interesting that its well-researched history does not uncover any satisfactory explanation for the nines which, I suspect, is at the heart of the question. Rather than to pick an unsatisfactory explanation, we are best to keep researching and indicate that, while it is a very old expression, the origin of the nines is currently not very clear.
Totally agree RobertB. Not like I’m a fan of numerology, but that mythology does have cultural influence and affects language. And the number 9 does have some very positive connotations. Contrary to Glenn’s assertion:
Glenn said: … history does not uncover any satisfactory explanation for the nines …
I believe it’s perfectly well explained by numerology’s influence on culture.
I appreciate your position, but I haven’t found the dictionary you used. Michael Quinion refers to that as a theory that has been posited, among several others. As an intellectual argument, it makes as much sense as any of the others. In the absence of documentation, I guess one theory is as good as the next.
Dennis Harper of the Online Etymology Dictionary has a very, very different number in mind. He seems to favor the idea that the nines is a corruption of the old form of one. ... to than anes. / … to then anes.
It is an oblique form of one, from whence we get both once and nonce.
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