Six Ways to Sunday – Meaning, Origin and Usage

Are you looking for a way to say that you have considered a problem from every conceivable angle, and taken all possible alternatives into account? You could use the saying “six ways to Sunday” or one of its many variations. Learn more about this idiom, its meaning, and its use in this post.

​​Meaning

The American idiom “six ways to Sunday” typically means that someone has explored something deeply and thoroughly.

The idiom can have different meanings as well:

  • In every possible direction.
  • As often as possible.

It is important to note that, while “six ways to Sunday” is currently the most common variation of this idiom, numerous others exist. These include “six ways from Sunday” and “six ways for Sunday”.

You can also replace the number “six” in the idiom with any other number, with “nine” being the most common alternative.

​​Example Usage

Are you curious how the idiom “six ways to Sunday” might be used in practice? These examples shed some light on the matter:

  • “I researched that history paper six ways to Sunday but I still can’t find an acceptable answer to the question the professor posed.” (In this case, the phrase is used to mean “in every possible way”.)
  • “As the little girl’s bag broke, marbles came spilling out six ways to Sunday.” (Here, six ways to Sunday means “in every direction”.)
  • “We very our employees six ways to Sunday before hiring them. There is no way that Mike has a criminal record.”

​​Origin

The idiom “six ways to Sunday” and its numerous creative variations have been in use since at least the nineteenth century.

You can also say “40”, “nine”, “all”, and “both” ways to Sunday, or use any other number. In addition, it is correct to refer to any number of ways “from” or “for” Sunday.

All forms of this flexible saying are exclusively used in the United States.

One of the earliest recorded uses of the phrase occurred in 1785, when the Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue talked about “looking both ways for Sunday”, meaning “in all possible ways”.

Another early use of this saying dates back to 1832, when American Turf Register and Sporting Magazine referred to “a hat that stands nine ways for Sunday”, meaning “in all directions”.

The versatility of the phrase “six ways to Sunday” makes it rather interesting. Not only can people using it get creative with the number of ways to (or for, or from) Sunday, the saying also has multiple meanings.

While “six ways to Sunday” was originally primarily used to talk about “many directions”, it now usually refers to being thorough or examining every possibility.

Phrases Similar to Six Ways to Sunday

Is “six ways to Sunday” too confusing for you? When talking about being thorough or considering every possibility, you could also say:

  • Leave no stone unturned — again meaning to consider all options and alternatives.
  • Weigh your options
  • Mull over something — meaning you are currently considering your options.

Phrases Opposite to Six Ways to Sunday

The opposite of “six ways to Sunday”, meaning to consider every possibility, would be to accept something without giving it much thought. In this case, you could use the following phrases:

  • To blindly accept something — “blind” referring, in this case, to not “seeing” all the options.
  • Making a snap decision — a decision made without careful consideration.
  • Going with the flow — going along with other people without making active decisions.

​What Is the Correct Saying?

The correct saying, “six ways to Sunday” can mean “in all possible ways” or “in every direction”.

​​Ways People May Say Six Ways to Sunday Incorrectly

Once you get the general gist, it is hard to misuse this saying.

“Six ways to Sunday” is the most common use of this phrase, which typically means “thoroughly”, or (having considered) “all possible ways”, and can also mean “in every direction” or even “as often as possible”.

You can substitute any number for “six”, however, as well as choosing to use “all” or “both”, among other options. You can also talk about six ways from Sunday or six ways for Sunday.

​​Acceptable Ways to Phrase Six Ways to Sunday

In modern English, the phrase “six ways to Sunday” is most commonly used to mean that you have considered every angle and you have been thorough. You can use it to say that you have carefully weighed your options and are satisfied with your choice.

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