Ins and outs

Posted by ESC on September 24, 2002

In Reply to: Ins and outs posted by Shae on September 24, 2002

: Learning the "ins and outs" means developing some degree of expertise.

: An article in today's Irish Times explains one possible origin. "The main thing you have to know about ploughing [competitively] is that the ins and outs have to be in line," she said, explaining that these were the points where the plough entered and exited the soil.

: Any other explanations?

When I heard that phrase, I think of sewing or wrapping a Maypole. This source doesn't given an origin but lists two meanings.

INS AND OUTS - "The ramifications of a situation or the changes in it; the people in politics who hold office and the ones who don't. The first meaning turned up in 1670 in a memorial by Bishop John Hacket on John Williams, archbishop of York: 'Follow their Whimsies and their In and outs at the Consulto, when the Prince was among them.' The second meaning is in one of Lord Chesterfield's letters : 'I believe that there will be something patched up between the 'ins' and 'outs.'" From The Dictionary of Cliches by James Rogers (Ballantine Books, New York, 1985).