before vowels and in certain chemical compound words hex-, word-forming element meaning "six," from Greek hexa-, combining form of hex "six," from PIE root *sweks- (see six).
Entries linking to hexa-
one more than five; twice three; the number which is one more than five; a symbol representing this number;" Old English siex, six, seox, sex, from Proto-Germanic *seks (source also of Old Saxon and Danish seks, Old Norse, Swedish, and Old Frisian sex, Middle Dutch sesse, Dutch zes, Old High German sehs, German sechs, Gothic saihs), from PIE *s(w)eks (source also of Sanskrit sas, Avestan kshvash, Persian shash, Greek hex, Latin sex, Old Church Slavonic sesti, Polish sześć, Russian shesti, Lithuanian šeši, Old Irish se, Welsh chwech).
As "playing card with six spots or pips" by 1590s. Six-footer "person measuring six feet or more" is by 1844. Six-shooter, usually a revolver with six chambers (firing six shots in succession), is attested from 1844; six-pack of beverage containers is from 1952, of abdominal muscles by 1995.
Six of one and half-a-dozen of the other "little difference" is recorded from 1833. Six-figure (adj.) in reference to hundreds of thousands (of dollars, etc.) is from 1840. Six feet under "dead" is from 1942.
The phrase at sixes and sevens originally was "hazarding all one's chances," first in Chaucer, perhaps from dicing (the original form was on six and seven); it could be a corruption of at cinque and sice "exposed to great risk" (1530s), literally "at five and six," using the French names (which were common in Middle English) for the highest numbers on the dice. The meaning "at odds, in disagreement or confusion" in the exact phrase is from 1785; in Middle English the phrase set at (or on) six and seven meant "play havoc, create an uproar."
updated on October 09, 2017