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where does the phrase "all of a 2 'n 8" originate from? It means - not knowing what to do - confused - unsettled

  • I've heard of being at sixes and sevens. – Joe L. Feb 7 '16 at 0:52
  • @Chav Yes, you're right about the meaning. It's Cockney Rhyming slang for "state" which rhymes with the "eight" in the expression two and eight, which in full is two shillings and eight pence. When the expression was first coined, we had a 3-tier currency: pounds, shillings and pence. Nowadays we just have pounds and pence. But older speakers (like me) still use the idiom in a jocular way – BillJ Feb 7 '16 at 12:04
  • @BillJ - I suggest you post an answer! – user66974 Feb 7 '16 at 12:41
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State in Cockney rhyming slang.

Usually related to a state of emotional distress or confusion.

EDIT: Here is @BillJ's explanation (from comments) for the original meaning before the Cockneys overloaded it : "... the expression two and eight, which in full is two shillings and eight pence. When the expression was first coined, we had a 3-tier currency: pounds, shillings and pence. Nowadays we just have pounds and pence."

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    No, not 2x8 timber, but two and eight as in two shillings and eight pence. See my message below to Josh. – BillJ Feb 7 '16 at 12:10
  • Cheers @BillJ, ah that makes sense now ! Pre-decimal was (only slightly) before my time ! – k1eran Feb 7 '16 at 12:22
  • I would suggest you correct your answer. – Andrew Leach Feb 7 '16 at 13:33

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