'A tightly wound organization'


New Member
Good afternoon everyone,

could you please help me with understanding the expression 'a tightly wound organization' in the following sentence:

'....that the uniform represents the company, that it has to be worn with pride, that a soiled or poor-appearing employee is the first unraveling of a tightly wound organization.' (Iain Levison - A Working Stiff's Manifesto).

Thank you all in advance!
  • EStjarn

    Senior Member
    'Wound' is the past participle of the verb 'wind'. I think it's used figuratively in the following sense: "To wrap (something) around a center or another object once or repeatedly: wind string around a spool," (AHD). I believe 'tightly wound' means the same thing as, or has a very similar meaning to, 'tightly knit': "closely and firmly integrated: a tight-knit organization," (WordNet).


    Senior Member
    English but my first language was German
    Tightly wound is a continuation of the metaphor implicit in unraveling.

    We usually use unraveling to mean sink into disorder, but its original meaning is to unwind a ball of wool or untwist the parts of a rope. So the author says to himself: the opposite of an unraveled organization must be a tightly wound organization. Wound is the past participle of wind, as EStjarn says, and is pronounced wawnd, not woond like the injury
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