GET (OR HAVE) YOUR DUCKS IN A ROW

Iddy gets his ducks in a row

Definition: Have everything organised and prepared

Example: “You’ll need to get your ducks in a row,” Janet said to Bob ahead of his court date over his 132 unpaid parking tickets.

Origin:

Once again, one idiom, many possibilities…

  1. Probably the most straightforward explanation is that the phrase alludes to the way a mother duck will lead her ducklings in a single file.
  2. Perhaps it refers to carnival sideshow shooting galleries where the player attempts to knock down targets on conveyor belts with an air rifle. The targets are often wildfowl, and it is indeed easier to knock down multiple targets if they are lined up in an even row.
  3. Maybe stretching the guns and wildfowl theory a bit too far, there are suggestions it may have to do with 20th century hunting licenses and quotas in the USA, where hunters shot ducks on a point system which they were not meant to exceed. If a game warden demanded to see what the hunter had procured, they would have to lay their ducks out in a row for inspection.
  4. In both shipbuilding and aircraft design, the splines that form the skeleton of the ship or aircraft fuselage are shaped with the assistance of weights known as ‘ducks’. To get an even shape, the engineer would have to ensure all their ducks are in a row.

Take your favourite theory and present it as fact in your next conversation. That’s how the origins of phrases become the mountains of disinformation they are!

Iddy’s not sure which theory he sides with, but one thing is certain – nobody’s going to be shooting his ducks!

 

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