A Place for everything and everything in its place

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A Place for everything and everything in its place : Phrases


The notion that everything should have a place to be stored in and that it should be tidily returned there when not in use.



The first printed citation is from The Ohio Repository, Canton, Ohio, December 1827. It's in an item titled 'Neatness', by Reverend C. A. Goodrich (who doesn't sound like a barrel of laughs):

"There is as much meaning in the old adage, and the observance of which let me urge you as a remedy for every degree of evil I advert [sic] to - 'Have a place for every thing, and keep every thing in its proper place.'"

Several of the early citations are from nautical contexts; which isn't surprising considering the need to conserve space and promote tidiness onboard ship. Here's an example from Frederick Marryat's Masterman Ready; or the Wreck of the Pacific, 1842:

"In a well-conducted man-of-war every thing is in its place, and there is a place for every thing."

Slightly earlier, a modified version of the phrase was in use in the USA. This is from an item headed 'Brother Jonathan's Wife's Advice to her Daughter on her Marriage', in the Hagerstown Mail, Maryland, January 1841:

"A place for everything and everything in time are good family mottos."

The phrase is typical of the uplifting homilies that were promoted during the Victorian era (beginning 1837), e.g. 'cleanliness is next to godliness' (circa 1880s).

Phrases Index

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