A place for everything and everything in its place

I have been expending so much time in research on my upcoming comprehensive dictionary of proverbial, figurative and curious phrase origins that I have had few additional posts on the blog of late.

One recent item I felt compelled to post. Have you ever heard the old saying, “A place for everything and everything in its place”? Well, it kind of reminds me of the ”Odd Couple,” which went from a major motion picture to a popular TV series. Those of you old enough to recall Felix and Oscar are aware that Felix was a ‘neat freak’ while Oscar was much the opposite, and living together after they both split from their wives drove them both crazy.

Here’s what I discovered about the origins of this proverbial saying:

This quote, indicating that being well-organized is important, is attributed often to The Book of Household Management by Isabella Mary Beeton, 1861. But it was around before Ms. Beeton’s book. It was most likely a quote from Benjamin Franklin (January 17, 1706 – April 17, 1790), but the earliest printed nod for his coining the proverb seems to be on page 2 of Niles Weekly Register, Baltimore, 5 February 1820. The first known reference to the actual saying is from a book published by the Religious Tract Society in 1799 titled The Naughty Girl Won:

“Before, however, Lucy had been an hour in the house she has contrived a place for everything and put everything in its place.”

A number of publications contained the proverb in the nineteenth century and then in 1857 a book titled A Place for Every Thing; and Every Thing in Its Place was published in New York by Alice Bradley Haven.

In Chemical News and Journal of Industrial Science, Volume 33, by Sir William Crookes, 1876, page 38, it has exact wording and calls this a ‘good old motto’:

“The pervading idea of these tabular studies is the good old motto — ‘A place for everything, and everything in its place’ but it is extremely difficult to construct any.”

 This is only one of many hundreds of sayings which will be in this 800 page tome scheduled for publication next year.

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