What "T." stands for?

Somebody said: " She just had everything to a 'T' ". What the "T." stands for here? Thanks.

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  • 1 decade ago
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    I'm surprised at the suggestion that "no one knows". Given the evidence, I believe the connection with "to a tittle" is rather well established.

    First, "to a T" it is a late 17th century variation of the expression "to a tittle" (used in the same way/with the same sense). "To a tittle" was in use by the early 17th century, with the meaning "to the smallest detail."

    The word "tittle" comes from the Latin word for a diacritical mark (and is related to the word "title").

    http://www.thefreedictionary.com/tittle

    But the key to the expression is its BIBLICAL use.

    To begin with, John Wycliffe's translation of the Bible into English in the mid-14th century, translating the Latin "apex" of Matthew 5:18 as "tittle". In the Greek the word used literally means "horn". By this, Jesus was probably referring to tiny marks on the edges of certain Hebrew letters that distinguished them from very similar Hebrew letters (hence the modern paraphrase "least stroke of a pen").

    http://www.randomhouse.com/wotd/index.pperl?date=1...

    Note that "tittle" in this verse is is the second member of a pair, the now familiar "jot and tittle". For more on the "jot" see:

    http://www.randomhouse.com/wotd/index.pperl?date=2...

    "Jot" and "tittle" continued to be used later in16th century English Bible translations (beginning William Tyndale in the 1520s). Many still know these terms from the King James (1611) translation -- "Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled."

    http://www.blueletterbible.org/kjv/Mat/Mat005.html...

    Based on this Biblical "tittle" to refer to tiny details "to a tittle" was used to refer to precision (that is 'to the smallest detail').

    It appears seems that the expression "to a tittle" (and so later "to a T") was originally a deliberate echo of Matthew 5, in which the term is used to emphasize something doing thoroughly "even to the tiniest detail".

    see also:

    http://worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-toa2.htm

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  • 1 decade ago

    A T-square is a ruler with a crosspiece or head at one end used by architects in making very fine and exacting parallel lines and for which the expression "fits you to a t" was thusly referenced.

    The allusion here is said to be with a T square. This piece of apparatus is so accurate that a precise right angle fits it perfectly.

    However neat this suggestion is, there is another possible origin, based on the fact that the saying was in use in the 17th century, before the T square was invented. This one suggests that the T stands for "Title", a minute and precisely positioned pen stroke or printer's mark. A tiny brushstroke was all that distinguished the Hebrew letter "dalet" from "resh". "Title" was the word chosen by Wycliffe to translate references to this tiny difference in his version of the New Testament. Thus the mark was perfectly suited to its task.

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  • K ;
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    Nice theories above, but the real answer is, "No one knows for sure." The bible for such questions is the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), and it says, "The original sense of T here has not been ascertained. Suggestions that it was the tee at Curling, or at Golf, or a T square, appear on investigation to be untenable."

    The best guess is that it is from "to a T' comes from 'to a tittle' (a tittle is a small dot). OED says, "it is notable that 'to a tittle' (i.e. to a *****, dot, jot) was in use nearly a century before ‘to a T’, and in exactly the same constructions."

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  • MichM
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    When they say that someone had everything to a "T"

    It means they got it all done perfectly - down to the last detail.

    Was done exactly the way they wanted it!!

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  • 1 decade ago

    I think it refers to people who drink 'Tea' because they're usually uptight and have to have everything neat, tidy and anal retentive about their stuff. Just kidding. I'd like to know to.

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  • 1 decade ago

    I think it meant tee. As in the golf tee.

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