Know Your Idioms: Sixes and Sevens

While we at Always Cheating don't believe you need to adopt a European inflection to be a true soccer fan, it's still fun to know your idioms.

While we at Always Cheating don't believe you need to adopt a European inflection to be a true soccer fan, it's still fun to know your idioms.

Because I live in these great United States, I was watching Brazil's World Cup dream implode against Germany on American television. One might guess, though, that if I were watching on a British station, I would have at least once heard the pundits declare the Brazilian defense was at "sixes and sevens." I remember hearing the phrase for the first time a few years back, probably at the expense of some soon-to-be-relegated Premier League side like Bolton or Blackpool, and set immediately to the Internet research. And from that moment forward, "sixes and sevens" was forcibly shoehorned into more of my football-watching quips than is decent.

But pretend I have not already offered up the necessary context clues. What does it mean? Where does it come from? "Chaotic and confused," says Urban Dictionary. Perhaps originating from the French "cinque and sice," sixes and sevens connects to an English dice game that features in—you guessed it—Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. Our Wikipedia research goes on to uncover connections to strange mercantile disputes and, especially, Evita. Cool.

So who will be at sixes and sevens in the Premier League this season? One assumes any of the newly promoted clubs will find themselves at times chaotic and confused as they find their footing. Or will it be a club like Southampton that is more at risk, having sold off three solid starting-eleven defenders? Artur Boruc—he knows what I'm talking about. I also seem to recall Liverpool's all out attack last season resembling something like a hazardous dice game.