Skip links

odds and ends

Idiom: odds and ends; used as a noun

First Example:
When Thomas changed jobs, he had to
clean out his office.  He was surprised
by all the odds and ends he
found.  In addition to paperwork, receipts and
normal office supplies, he found old birthday cards, a toothbrush, refrigerator
magnets, a couple hangers, and a picture of his mom’s dog.  He had forgotten why he had most of them.

Meaning:Odds and ends
is a phrase that means miscellaneous items. This idiom is usually used when
describing an assortment of things that are usually leftovers, and they are not
usually valuable or important.  In the above example, Thomas found a number of strange things in his office that he had collected
there over the years, so “odds and ends” is a perfect word to
summarize the group of objects.

Here is
another example:    

Shelley’s purse is filled with
various odds and ends, including a
scarf, post-it notes, a single earring, 2 spoons, a empty water bottle, and a
package of old cookies.  She really needs
to clean out her purse more often!

In this case, Shelley has a number
of odds and ends in her purse in
addition to more normal things like makeup and her wallet. 

To understand “odds and ends” more clearly, it might help if you understand that the phrase originally comes from lumberyards (places where they cut wood).  After cutting a
long piece of wood a certain length, there would be an “end” left
over, and when cutting one large piece into multiple pieces of the same size,
there would be an “odd” piece left over; hence “odds and

This idiom is from the upcoming
edition of LSI’s book “Reading Horizons,” which will be used in the
Level 6 Reading classes. For more information, please visit   

Join the Discussion