dot the i’s and cross the t’s

dot the i’s and cross the t’s

Meaning:
– to take care of every detail, even minor ones
– be meticulous and precise
– to do something very carefully and in a lot of detail
– complete the job paying attention to the details

Examples:
1. I had dotted all the i’s and crossed the t’s, so I wondered why my application was rejected
2. Before taking the project to the CEO, let’s make sure we dot the i’s and cross the t’s.
3. She writes highly accurate reports – she always dots her i’s and crosses her t’s.
4. The negotiations are nearly finished, but we still have to dot the i’s and cross the t’s.
5. Why can’t Jerry dot the i’s and cross the t’s? I always find mistakes in his work.
6. Your instructor is a tough grader, be sure to dot your ‘i’s and cross your ‘t’s on your research.

Origin:
Be meticulous and precise, fill in all the particulars, as in Laura had dotted all the i’s and crossed the t’s, so she wondered what she’d done wrong . This expression presumably began as an admonition to school children to write carefully and is sometimes shortened. William Make peace Thackeray had it in a magazine article (Scribner’s Magazine, 1849): “I have . . . dotted the i’s.” [Mid-1800s].

D 4 Comments

4 Comments

AuthorIan Matheson writes on 31st October 2018

Met a couple people from London who say they have never heard the expression. Apparently started here in the States.

AuthorJeff Barrans writes on 11th July 2018

It is probably from the early 1800’s. In addition to the 1849 article me tioned above, it was also used in I.K. Marvel’s “Revieries of a Bachelor”, published in 1950. If it referenced by two publications at the same time, it was probably in wide use already.
“That scrawling PostScript at the bottom, with it’s i’s so carefully dotted, and it’s gigantic t’s so carefully crossed”.

AuthorJoyce Sweet writes on 23rd February 2016

Detail orientated, excellent!

AuthorRajeev writes on 18th February 2014

My theory: the origin for only the two letters t and i is when proof reading writer’s manuscripts. Assume the word is ‘twitter’ and the t and i are not cross and dotted.

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