Posted by James Briggs on May 31, 2000
In Reply to: Phrase "To a T" posted by Bruce Kahl on May 31, 2000
: 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.
: Just my opinion!
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.