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What is the Origin of the saying “Get Your Ducks in a Row”?

What is the Origin of the English Term “Get Your Ducks in a Row”?

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American English has a lot of sayings and terms. If you want to fully understand their language, you have to know the different American idioms in order to sound natural and converse with the American-speaking English population.

One common term that is often said is “get your ducks in a row.” Now what does this term means and where did it come from? This American idiom means that everything should be set, even the minute details should be properly looked into before performing any tasks to ensure that everything will work properly and according to plan.

The most common explanation of how this term originated comes from the ducks. Although there are also a lot of theories that originated from ducks, the most common one is probably about the mother duck and her ducklings. Mother ducks often have their duckling line in order before and after approaching a body of water or while walking around. Even while they are swimming along the water, they are still properly aligned. Another theory that still involves ducks is when ducks are migrating from one place to another. Notice that they are always forming a V line with the leader of the flock in front. Ducks are organized creatures that always set their members in proper order. Probably people see it that way and used the term “ducks in a row” to represent proper order or arranged elements.

Other theory that suggests where this idiom comes from started in bowling wherein the bowling pins were called as ducks due to their size and shapes. Bowling “ducks” before were shorter compared to the pins we have now. They were also manually arranged before the player can start playing again.

Another theory suggests of a carnival game that still involves ducks. It is a popular game in amusement centers wherein moving targets were presented in front. Oftentimes the shape is a duck and the player often uses a toy rifle to fire at the toy ducks. These ducks are aligned and moving in a predictable motion. This is similar to the saying “get your ducks in a row” which also means preparing to predict the outcome.

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