at sixes and sevens

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at sixes and sevens

Frazzled or disorganized. The phrase likely originated from a dice game in which rolling a six or a seven was unfavorable. After caring for three sick kids all week, I'm totally at sixes and sevens. I'm at sixes and sevens now that the whole schedule has been rearranged.
See also: and, seven, six
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

at sixes and sevens

lost in bewilderment; at loose ends. Mrs. Smith is at sixes and sevens since the death of her husband. Bill is always at sixes and sevens when he's home by himself.
See also: and, seven, six
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

at sixes and sevens

Confused, disorganized, disorderly, as in We've just moved in, and the office is still at sixes and sevens, or The new college admissions tests were poorly explained, leaving the students at sixes and sevens . This ancient term is thought to come from a game of dice in which throwing a six or seven had a particular significance. The name of the game has been lost, but most likely betting on such a throw was very risky, denoting disorder and confusion. [Late 1300s]
See also: and, seven, six
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

at sixes and sevens

mainly BRITISH, INFORMAL
If something or someone is at sixes and sevens, they are disorganized and confused. Of course everything in the office is at sixes and sevens. None of us know what we should be doing. The home side were at sixes and sevens in the first half. Note: Two origins have been suggested for this phrase. The first is from a dice game, and the second is from a dispute that arose between two of the guilds or craft organizations in medieval London about who was to go sixth and who seventh in the annual procession through the city. The dispute was resolved by the guilds taking turns, and this still happens today.
See also: and, seven, six
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

at sixes and sevens

in a state of total confusion or disarray.
This phrase originated as gambling slang and may be an alteration or corruption of Old French cinque (five) and sice (six), these being the highest numbers on dice. The idea of risking all your goods on the two highest numbers led to the idea of carelessness and neglect of your possessions and eventually to the development of the phrase's current meaning.
1998 Oldie But if you arrive in the afternoon we may be a bit at sixes and sevens as we're doing a wedding reception.
See also: and, seven, six
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

at sixes and sevens

In a state of confusion or disorder.
See also: and, seven, six
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

at sixes and sevens

In disarray or confusion. The term comes from a game of dice in which throwing a six or seven has special significance, as it does in modern craps. There is considerable disagreement as to the precise game, or even if “six” or “seven” are not corruptions of sinque (five) and sice (six). Erasmus quoted a proverb to that effect, but, since dicing is very old indeed, the idea may be much older yet.
See also: and, seven, six
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer

at sixes and sevens

In complete disorder. The most likely source of the phrase is an old dice game called hazard, in which to bet on cinque and sice (from the French words for “five” and “six”) was particularly risky business. Anyone who did so was considered careless or confused. English-speaking players misheard or chose to pronounce cinque and sice as “sixes and sevens.”
See also: and, seven, six
Endangered Phrases by Steven D. Price Copyright © 2011 by Steven D. Price
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