Six, Two and Even

Anyone know the origin and meaning?

I’m sure the origin of numbers is around here somewhere. But unless you elaborate a bit, no one seems to know what you mean.

Then we’ll turn our tommy guns
on the screaming ravaged nuns
and the peoples voice will be the only sound.
-P. Sky

Well all I could find out was that it was a big band song and also the name of a yacht.
As for the album…

I’m not sure if that’s the earliest recording of that song. It looks like a couple different performers did that song.

sounds like a roulette bet, just a guess.

“Six, two, and even, over and out” is a direct quote from the old Dick Tracy cartoons. He was usually talking into his wrist radio when he said it. At the time, it was funny because radios at the time (late fifties, early sixties) weighed several pounds and took up more space than would fit on a wrist. The numbers come from two dials that were used to measure received power levels. Hence, six was showing up on one dial, two was showing on the other, and the numbers were holding steady. This same origin is reflected in the term “I read you five by five,” indicating that the two dials were both at five (a pretty strong signal). Nowadays, of course, we have two-way wrist TVs just like Dick had. Will wonders never cease?

Welcome to the Boards, Duke, in case no one else said it.

Just a bit of information to add to what you just posted.

The comic strip Dick Tracy first appeared in October of 1931.

I can supply you with a newspaper article from February of 1930 in which one of the characters says


All I’m saying is that it was a slang phrase which existed before Dick Tracy cartoons. I haven’t done much more to find anything about it. I totally accept your explanation that it comes from meter readings. But until I have the time, just thought I’d update your theory.

AS An ADDED NOTE==even though this is a zombie thread, adding new factual information to a General Question is allowed.

in radio the first number is readability as you judge on a scale from 1 to 5, the second number is signal strength often from a meter on a scale from 1 to 9.

if the cartoon was stretching reality to give 2 way communications in matchbox size they didn’t have to be too realistic.

they got a bit fanciful with the Space Coupe.

Oh, dear. I just decided to run a scan of the newspaper databases I frequent.

  1. No doubt a bit before the meters were applied to radios.

Horse racing terminology, doncha’ know. Trust me on this.

That’s almost as old as this thread!

I’ve never heard the expression before. Mind telling me what it means, and in what context it’s used?

I’ll take that bet. I worked for a greyhound racing/casino. Believe it or not, I had heard this phrase from a few patrons.
Although I don’t really know the significance of it.

I remember the phrase as “Six-two and even, over and out” from the old Dick Tracy cartoon of the very early sixties.

Which made no sense either, in that context. “Over and out” was not legitimate communication, it’s supposed to be either “over” or “out”, not both.

Interesting to see the phrase in the OP is actually over 100 years old.

True, but it was a common phrase used in Hollywood.

not used in real life as ‘over and out’ when doing sensible radio communications.

it may have been a corruption or contraction of ‘over to you and then out’. which means ‘i’m done talking, i will switch it over to you for your final word and then we’re done’.

It may be a coincidence, but a variation of the phrase isa Bogart line from “The Maltese Falcon”, where Spade is taunting Wilmer:

This would support the gambling odds origin. The Dick Tracy version could be a conflation of “they’re selling you out” to “over and out”.

Just to augment my 1905 newspaper find, you can read it from 1904, using Google Books. Again, talking about horse racing.


So, the odds on the horse were 6 to 1 to win, 2 to 1 to place, and even to show.

Nothing to do with radios, Dick Tracy, movies, etc. They all stole it from the bookies/touts of 1900.

But maybe not directly. It may have existed within the gambling community for decades before it was popularized by a movie like the Maltese Falcon, from which it spread to wider usage.