"to a t" [very slight antedatings]

Bonnie Taylor-Blake b.taylorblake at GMAIL.COM
Sun Nov 4 17:58:52 UTC 2012

The OED shares an example of "to a t" from 1693.

Here are a couple that appeared a smidge earlier.  (With apologies if
they've already been reported.)

1) "ah that Eye, Sir Thomas, that Leer of the left Eye has broke many
a heart, you old Rogue; George's Eye, Son George has the same Eye to a
T"  [From William Mountfort, "Greenwich-park a comedy acted at the
Theatre-Royal, by Their Majesties servants" (Scene 3), 1691.  Via
ProQuest's EEBO.]

2) "Ay Tom, replies the Master, I am sorry I saw them no sooner; these
would do my Business to a T; but as the Devil and ill Luck would have
it, I have laid out my whole Stock already, and so I'll e'en set my
Heart at Rest."  [From Elkanah Settle, _The notorious imposter, or,
The history of the life of William Morrell alias Bower, &c._, 1692.
Via ProQuest's EEBO.]

(I also looked for antedatings of "to a tittle" in EEBO, but couldn't
find any examples appearing earlier than 1607 that clearly had the
same meaning as the OED's 1607 find.)

-- Bonnie

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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