Get one’s ducks in a row and have one’s ducks in a row

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To get one’s ducks in a row means to take care of one’s duties and responsibilities, to organize one’s affairs. Get one’s ducks in a row and have one’s ducks in a row are American idioms, the origin of these phrases is murky. One possible origin is a lawn bowling game that was popular in the 1700s, which involved setting up duck pins, obviously, in a row. Another possible inspiration for the term get one’s ducks in a row is the way in which tin ducks are lined up in a shooting gallery. A third possibility comes from actual ducks and the way in which ducklings line up when following their mothers. At this time, the earliest found reference to ducks in a row, meaning to organize one’s affairs, comes from The Plaindealer in 1889.


“I would think before they implement this, they should get their ducks in a row.” (The Des Moines Register)

In a fast-paced market with limited supply, get your ducks in a row before you shop. (The Kiplinger)

County Board Chairman Jeff Bohm said officials will still apply “for every grant on this side of the Mississippi, too,” but added getting all those financial ducks in a row might take a while. (The Times Herald)

The Fairbanks area mostly has its ducks in a row as commercial marijuana permitting is set to begin early next year. (The News-Miner)

“You have to have your ducks in a row, and that would be the advice from states that have already done it. Figure out your policy,” Scalf said. (The Worcester Business Journal)

It was a genuine case of getting your ducks in a row yesterday morning as Masterton people documented the “bold trek” of a family of up to 22 ducks that brought traffic to a halt in the town as they made their way to the lake in Queen Elizabeth Park. (Wairarapa Times-Age)