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To "have one's ducks in a row" means that the person is doing a good job and has all of his or her duties taken care of in an efficient and timely manner. Phrases involving our web-footed friends, including "nice day for a duck" (meaning rainy weather) and "like water off a duck's back" (meaning having no effect), have been common in English for hundreds of years. "To have one's ducks in a row," however, seems to be a fairly recent coinage. The first appearance of the phrase noted in Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang is in 1979, in Stephen King's novel "The Stand." The related "line up one's ducks" appears only a year earlier, in 1978.

But why a duck? to echo the Marx Brothers. It's possible that the phrase began as a reference to the lines of little metal ducks used as targets in carnival shooting galleries. A more benevolent explanation would be that "to have one's ducks in a row" refers to the common sight of a mother duck leading a troop of her ducklings in an orderly row.

- The Word Detective


 


Comments

10/01/2016 2:27am

good

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To be honest, I don't really consider ducks as adorable and cute as what everyone sees about them. My impression of them is that they're an annoying kind of animal. I don't know if it's the sound that they make like, it's really irritating to my ear. Quack, quack, quack. Just typing out that words, made me already feel aggravated to everything. I don't mean to offend any duck lovers out there. I'm just stating my honest opinion in ducks and that I really hate them. I hope there could somehow be a way for me to start loving them. Just anything that would make me love their sounds. That noise that they're making. Anyways, this is such a good article about ducks even though I didn't really appreciate them in general.

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Nice topic about duck and good job for caring of duck. Ducks are birds. They are also called "waterfowls" because they are normally found in places with water, like ponds, streams and rivers. They are related to geese and swans. The duck is the smallest of them all. Ducks also have shorter necks and wings and a stout body. They can live from 2-12 years, depending on breed.

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01/01/2017 7:09pm

I love the color of these ducks. I wish to see them in this lifetime. So far the only ducks I have seen were white ones. I wanted so much to see a wild duck. There is not much of them in the cities. I am so tired of looking at the four walls inside my room. I wanted so much to go out.

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    Author

    Helane Blinn is a Professional Organizer, Home Stager, and the Founder of Ducks In A Row Professional OrganizingSM.

    She is also a member of NAPO, NAPO-New England, and NAPO Golden Circle.

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