Posted by ESC on September 05, 2001
In Reply to: Six in one, half dozen in the other posted by Pam on September 05, 2001
: Another of my mother's phrases that is obvious what it means, but I wonder where it came from.
SIX OF ONE, HALF A DOZEN OF THE OTHER -- "It's all the same. A play on numbers, similar to, 'A cold lasts a week if you treat it and seven days if you don't.' An early appearance of the saying was in Frederick Marryat's 'The Pirate and the Three Cutters' : 'I knows the women, but I never knows the children. It's just six of and half-a-dozen of the other, ain't it Bill?'" From "The Dictionary of Cliches" by James Rogers (Ballantine Books, New York, 1985).
Another reference has more on the Marryat quote. Let me know if you want it.