Results 1 to 10 of 10
  1. #1
    keannu's Avatar
    keannu is offline Key Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Student or Learner
      • Native Language:
      • Korean
      • Home Country:
      • South Korea
      • Current Location:
      • South Korea
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Posts
    4,370
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default six of one and half-a-dozen of the other

    What does this saying mean? I know it means there's little difference between one and the other, but literally, does it mean something is six of a group that has only six, and half-a-dozen(12/2=6) of the other group which has more than six? Or don't I have to care about its literal meaning?

    do49
    ex)(It is) six of one and half-a-dozen of the other

  2. #2
    Raymott's Avatar
    Raymott is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Academic
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Australia
      • Current Location:
      • Australia
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Posts
    19,758
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: six of one and half-a-dozen of the other

    Quote Originally Posted by keannu View Post
    What does this saying mean? I know it means there's little difference between one and the other, but literally, does it mean something is six of a group that has only six, and half-a-dozen(12/2=6) of the other group which has more than six? Or don't I have to care about its literal meaning?

    do49
    ex)(It is) six of one and half-a-dozen of the other
    The literal meaning is irrelevant except that they mean the same thing. It could have been "50 of one and half a hundred of the other" (though it's not).

  3. #3
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • Philippines
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Posts
    43,307
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: six of one and half-a-dozen of the other

    Quote Originally Posted by keannu View Post
    What does this saying mean? I know it means there's little difference between one and the other, but literally, does it mean something is six of a group that has only six, and half-a-dozen(12/2=6) of the other group which has more than six? Or don't I have to care about its literal meaning?
    It doesn't distinguish between the size of the groups, and Raymott's right- it's just a way of saying the same thing in different words to give the idea that there's no difference.

  4. #4
    BobK's Avatar
    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • UK
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Posts
    15,640
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: six of one and half-a-dozen of the other

    I've also met 'It's six and two threes' used with the same meaning.

    And a mathematician has been known to say 'It's six of one and 3! of the other' - same meaning, but 'in' joke (people who understand 'factorial' notation get it)

    b

  5. #5
    Barb_D's Avatar
    Barb_D is offline Moderator
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Other
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    17,344
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: six of one and half-a-dozen of the other

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    I've also met 'It's six and two threes' used with the same meaning.

    And a mathematician has been known to say 'It's six of one and 3! of the other' - same meaning, but 'in' joke (people who understand 'factorial' notation get it)

    b
    My daughters will both like this.
    Along the same lines, they also like this: There are 10 types of people in the world. Those whose understand binary and those who don't.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  6. #6
    Sameha Nashat is offline Newbie
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Student or Learner
      • Native Language:
      • Arabic
      • Home Country:
      • Egypt
      • Current Location:
      • Canada
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Posts
    1
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: six of one and half-a-dozen of the other

    "six of one and half-a-dozen of the other" is a reply when we want to choose between two things and the person giving the reply is effectively saying that there is no difference between these two choices.

  7. #7
    Judge Brybe is offline Junior Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • Russian
      • Home Country:
      • Russian Federation
      • Current Location:
      • Russian Federation
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Posts
    43
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: six of one and half-a-dozen of the other

    Like-for-like.

  8. #8
    BobK's Avatar
    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • UK
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Posts
    15,640
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: six of one and half-a-dozen of the other

    Quote Originally Posted by Judge Brybe View Post
    Like-for-like.
    This phrase has an implication of substitution. 'Six of one and half a dozen of the other' has no such implication - although things that are similar to this extent are obviously candidates for a like-for-like exchange.

    b
    Last edited by BobK; 03-Apr-2012 at 12:39. Reason: Fix typo

  9. #9
    Judge Brybe is offline Junior Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • Russian
      • Home Country:
      • Russian Federation
      • Current Location:
      • Russian Federation
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Posts
    43
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: six of one and half-a-dozen of the other

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    This phrase has an implication of substitution. 'Six of one and half a dozen of the other' has no such implication - although things that are similar to this extent are obviously candidates for a like-for-like exchange.
    b
    I see, sir

  10. #10
    sammer sami is offline Newbie
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Student or Learner
      • Native Language:
      • Arabic
      • Home Country:
      • Egypt
      • Current Location:
      • Egypt
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Posts
    2
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: six of one and half-a-dozen of the other

    "Half a dozen = 6. So "six" and "half a dozen" are two ways of saying the same thing. The expression means that there is no important difference between the alternatives, or the differences offset one another so the net result is the same.
    For example, I say to my husband, "Should I take Highway 101 or Highway 280?" and he replies, "It's six of one and a half dozen of the other." He means that I'll get there in about the same amount of time whether I take one road or the other."


    This person's answer says much but conveys little.


    "Six of one, half a dozen of the other" is a reply to a question that solicits an evaluation between two choices. The person giving the reply is effectively saying "there is no difference between these two choices".

Similar Threads

  1. mouth half-open or half-opened
    By Bushwhacker in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 06-Sep-2010, 17:31
  2. [General] nineteen to dozen
    By vil in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 01-Sep-2010, 14:25
  3. two dozen of eggs; three dozen of ale
    By sitifan in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 04-Dec-2008, 04:49
  4. A dozen roses
    By Suwei Wang in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 20-Jun-2005, 10:08
  5. an even dozen
    By bmo in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 8
    Last Post: 24-Aug-2004, 00:33

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •