loose ends, to be at

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loose ends, to be at

In an unsettled situation; unfinished; unemployed. This term refers to a rope or tether that has become unfastened, leaving one or both ends dangling. It appeared in print as long ago as 1546, when John Heywood’s proverb collection stated, “Some loose or od ende in life.” Similarly, to tie up loose ends means to settle various unsettled details.
See also: loose
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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