As in a guaranteed thing. For example, "Bill has twice the sales of anyone else on the floor so the sales competition is pretty well sewn up."

I've tried to think of various metaphors it could be employing but the only thing that seems to make sense is if it came from an older related saying where the literal meaning was more obvious.

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    It could also be done and dusted, locked down, or nailed, for example. They're all pretty transparent figurative usages, so I doubt there's much point in looking for some more "obvious" precursor. Commented Aug 20, 2015 at 1:53
  • I would hazard a guess that an action such as sewing closed a bag of grain might the be origin of the term. Or perhaps the common practice of sewing closed a pig or fowl that is to be roasted (after stuffing it).
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Aug 20, 2015 at 2:34

1 Answer 1


When you sew up something, you are sewing shut a hole. Think of "sewn up" as an antonym of "open." Instead of the sales compitition being wide open, Bil has closed it, or sewn it up.

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