Ducks in a row

Posted by ESC on October 12, 2004

In Reply to: Ducks in a row posted by Christianne Lane on October 12, 2004

: I have heard that the phrase comes from the 1920's in Memphis where there were (and still are) ducks living in an encloser on the roof of the Peabody Hotel. Their trainer literally gets his ducks in a row to parade them down the elevator to the lobby twice a day creating quite a spectacle. There's a red carpet and everything!

Here's what one reference says:

"Ducks in a Row, Get/Put Your - Primitive versions of modern bowling were known many centuries ago. Pins of varied sizes and shapes were employed. Eventually they were standardized at fifteen inches in both height and circumstances. Originally called ten-pins, the equipment used in Europe was employed in the earliest American bowling saloons. The game was modified by introduction of a short, slender pin that was compared with a duck and, by extension, called them duckpins. So many people reset so many pins in rows that one who completes a task is commended as having put his 'ducks in a row.'" From Why You Say It: The Fascinating Stories Behind over 600 Everyday Words and Phrasesby Webb Garrison.