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There's already a question (and answer) for "bits and bobs", which I believe is a Britishism, but what is the origin of "odds and ends"? "Odds" I have some reckoning for (as in, "odd items", meaning leftover). Why is this specie of miscellanea paired with "ends"?

Additionally, is "odds and ends" an Americanism?

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Why should ends not mean "leftovers" too -- in a similar meaning to "End of line" for obsolescent stock? Odds and ends is certainly not limited to American English, but it's now late and I can't be bothered to look it up. What did a dictionary or etymonline or phrases.org tell you? – Andrew Leach Oct 23 '12 at 23:32
up vote 5 down vote accepted

This phrase is older than you might imagine, having its roots in Anglo-Saxon. It is a corruption of ord and ende as indicated here in Folk-etymology: a dictionary of verbal corruptions or words perverted in form or meaning, by false derivation or mistaken, by Abram Smythe Palmer:

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The original expression meant "points and ends" which "signifies beginning and end."

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It's at the margins of my vocabulary, but orts is just about there. Once in a blue moon you need it for a crossword! – FumbleFingers Oct 24 '12 at 3:01

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