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Monday, March 18, 2013

Where Did We Get the Phrase "Have All Your Ducks in a Row?"

Part 3 of a 5-part series on the origin of popular phrases

When you're ready, we say you "have all your ducks in a row."

American bowlers originated the phrase in the mid-19th century.

Gambling among bowlers was taking such a toll on family finances at the time that governments began to pass laws prohibiting the game.

Bowling alley operators skirted the laws by changing the rules of the game, increasing the number of pins (from nine to ten) and modifying their shape. The new-fangled pins quickly became known as "ducks."

Bowling alley operators at the time also employed "pin boys," whose job was to set up your ducks before each frame.

When the pin boy's work was complete, you were readybecause you would "have all your ducks in a row."

NOTE: Special thanks to Ann Ramsey, writer, producer and historiographer of all things cryptic, for nominating the phrases in this series.

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