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BS: The Whole Nine Yards?

Scorpio 04 Nov 10 - 09:52 PM
Bobert 04 Nov 10 - 10:02 PM
Bill D 04 Nov 10 - 10:06 PM
Amos 04 Nov 10 - 10:14 PM
Joe Offer 04 Nov 10 - 10:22 PM
Bobert 04 Nov 10 - 10:24 PM
Amos 04 Nov 10 - 10:28 PM
Amos 04 Nov 10 - 10:36 PM
Scorpio 04 Nov 10 - 10:42 PM
Bobert 04 Nov 10 - 10:45 PM
GUEST,marks(on the road) 04 Nov 10 - 11:09 PM
josepp 05 Nov 10 - 12:10 AM
JohnInKansas 05 Nov 10 - 12:12 AM
Slag 05 Nov 10 - 02:08 AM
gnu 05 Nov 10 - 05:54 AM
Jack Campin 05 Nov 10 - 07:14 AM
McGrath of Harlow 05 Nov 10 - 07:48 AM
catspaw49 05 Nov 10 - 08:42 AM
Jim Dixon 05 Nov 10 - 11:37 AM
gnu 05 Nov 10 - 11:58 AM
Richie Black (misused acct, bad email) 05 Nov 10 - 12:18 PM
GUEST,B-26 Marauder Historical Society 05 Nov 10 - 01:42 PM
gnu 05 Nov 10 - 01:47 PM
gnu 05 Nov 10 - 01:48 PM
Bill D 05 Nov 10 - 02:04 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 05 Nov 10 - 02:34 PM
Desert Dancer 27 Dec 12 - 11:19 AM
GUEST,leeneia 27 Dec 12 - 12:15 PM
Jack the Sailor 27 Dec 12 - 12:43 PM
GUEST,leeneia 27 Dec 12 - 01:04 PM
Jack the Sailor 27 Dec 12 - 01:42 PM
Megan L 27 Dec 12 - 02:13 PM
gnu 27 Dec 12 - 03:43 PM
GUEST,Lighter 27 Dec 12 - 05:03 PM
Rumncoke 28 Dec 12 - 03:26 PM

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Subject: BS: The Whole Nine Yards?
From: Scorpio
Date: 04 Nov 10 - 09:52 PM

Can some of you American fellers tell me why the expression is "The Whole Nine Yards", when the football team has to gain 10 yards?


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Subject: RE: BS: The Whole Nine Yards?
From: Bobert
Date: 04 Nov 10 - 10:02 PM

Geese, man... You just opened up Pandora's Box... There are at least 500 different stories and folks will threaten each other with bodily hart in defending theirs...

LOL...

B~


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Subject: RE: BS: The Whole Nine Yards?
From: Bill D
Date: 04 Nov 10 - 10:06 PM

You don't know about "The Whole Nine Yards"? You REALLY don't know?...


Well, then...*grin* It's about the New York garment district and clothing manufacturers demanding to be given ALL the cloth required to make the long dresses of the early 1900s...


Now let's see how long it takes for THAT to make it to Snopes!


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Subject: RE: BS: The Whole Nine Yards?
From: Amos
Date: 04 Nov 10 - 10:14 PM

Or the length of a machine-gun ammo belt...


S


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Subject: RE: BS: The Whole Nine Yards?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 04 Nov 10 - 10:22 PM

This Wikipedia article very astutely says that the origin of the phrase is unknown....
The Wikipedia article links to this page about a Scotsman's kilt. Now, what's THAT about?

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: BS: The Whole Nine Yards?
From: Bobert
Date: 04 Nov 10 - 10:24 PM

That ain't it at all, Bill...

My gran-daddy had this ol' storage bin behind the ferrowin' barn and 'bout every spring it'd be time to sell off the hogs winter offerin'z... You know, a bigass bin of pigshit... But nevermind that... Grandaddy had an old Ford 8-N - you know, the one with the clutch so tight that after a day on it yer left leg just wanted to up and leave town - well, this tractor had one of the first hydrolic front bucket loaders in Wise County and that bucket held what the man at the Ford store was a "half yard"... Well, grandaddy figured out that it'd take 18 trips into the pigshit and...

...ya' see, it was spring time and Mr. Wilson wanted to buy that pigshit off grandaddy for some tobacco he was gonna put in and came up and looked it over an' legend has it that he told grandaddy, "I'll take the whole nine yards"...

So, there ya' have it...

And that is the truth!!!

B~


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Subject: RE: BS: The Whole Nine Yards?
From: Amos
Date: 04 Nov 10 - 10:28 PM

Long discussion here, but essentially just a gathering of competing speculations. Earliest citation is said to be in the 1950's but the earliest quoted I have seen is 1962.

Wikipedia says "While no written occurrences with the modern meaning have yet been found predating 1962, a number of anecdotal recollections suggest the phrase dates back to sometime in the 1950s, potentially into the 1940s. One of the better-documented cases is provided by Captain Richard Stratton, who recorded in 2005 that he encountered the phrase during naval flight training in Florida in July 1955 as part of a ribald story about a mythical Scotsman.".

Another site gives this example from 1962:

The current holder of the "earliest attestation" crown was found just last week by Stephen Goranson, who announced his discovery on the American Dialect Society mailing list (ADS-L). It shows up in "Man on the Thresh-Hold," a rambling short story by Robert E. Wegner in the Fall 1962 issue of Michigan's Voices, a quarterly literary magazine. Here is the long stream-of-consciousness sentence in which it appears:
(text of example is a bit map. See original here. ...)

Who knows why a "brush salesman" would be fond of saying "the whole damn nine yards"? This was the era of the Fuller Brush man, the legendary traveling salesman who would go door to door hawking brushes, brooms, mops, and so forth. Maybe it took nine yards of material to make a mop!


Short answer: provenance not known.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Whole Nine Yards?
From: Amos
Date: 04 Nov 10 - 10:36 PM

Here is an even earlier attested use:

(May 13, 2005 e-mail response from Richard Stratton)
Barry,

The most unique request I have received since 1973!

Etymology of "whole nine yards"?

1. Where first heard?
Navy School of Preflight in July 1955 at the ACRAAC (Aviation Cadet Recreation and Athletic Club - a base beer hall; NavCad's could not use O Club). Home of salacious & scatological songs, shaggy dog stories and off beat humor.
2. What meaning then?
Referred to the mythical Andy McTavish's private member and the scarf knitted by him for the birthday of his affianced, Mary Margaret MacMuff.
3. Explained in detail?
Yes, in great detail. One of a series of stories and songs enshrining the courtship of Andy and Mary Margaret.
4. US or VN?
United States - NAS Pensacola FL
5. Aviator usage in 1973?
The "whole nine yards" joined "the whole kit and caboodle" as meaning "all inclusive", "containing each and every element" and "a whole without any exceptions". It had lost all sexual reference or innuendo.

The attachment--the long story of Andrew MacTavish and Mary MacMuff--can be found here.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Whole Nine Yards?
From: Scorpio
Date: 04 Nov 10 - 10:42 PM

Wow! I thought I had misunderstood some sports rule, and it's nothing to do with football at all! Thanks for the enlightenment (or lack of)!


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Subject: RE: BS: The Whole Nine Yards?
From: Bobert
Date: 04 Nov 10 - 10:45 PM

Hey, listen to me, Scorpz... "The whole nine yards" is about anything you want it to be... That is the beauty of it...

The above story that I posted was just made up on the spot... Hey, when you get something like the "whole nine yards" ya' gotta get all 9 yards outta it, right???

B~


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Subject: RE: BS: The Whole Nine Yards?
From: GUEST,marks(on the road)
Date: 04 Nov 10 - 11:09 PM

I know several definitions of "kit", but just what in tarnation is
a "caboodle"?


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Subject: RE: BS: The Whole Nine Yards?
From: josepp
Date: 05 Nov 10 - 12:10 AM

It's a nautical term just as many of our quaint expressions are.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Whole Nine Yards?
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 05 Nov 10 - 12:12 AM

I have no idea where or when the expression appeared in print, however I can attest to it being in common use in rural Kansas around 1945 or so, since my grandfather and a couple of uncles used it in my presence fairly frequently then. It appeared then to be a "well worn phrase" that everyone understood.

Their explanation, which is one of the many commonly claimed, was that the cloth comes in 9 yard "bolts," and "buying the whole 9 yards (like yer grandma always does) means buying a bunch more than you need."

Since "the boys" didn't actually buy cloth, and didn't know that the bolts it came on actually started out with something more than 9 yards, grandma explained that many women would "take the whole 9 yards" if there was no more than that left on the roll; but if there was 10 yards left that sounded like too much. Sometimes, after estimating that there might be ten yards left, an offer to take the whole 9 yards resulted in the offer being accepted without measuring, and the lady made a profit. The other justification for taking more than needed was partly because nobody really trusted the measurements of the clerks (usually the shopowners) to measure accurately, and being "one foot in 9 yards cheated" was better than being a half a foot short of the yard you actually needed.

It should be noted that a feed sack from that time had about "a yard" of cloth in it, and almost any common kind of clothing could be made out of a sack, so buying cloth was sort of an extraordinary thing, and subject to separate debates among the men folk who couldn't understand why it was necessary and among the wimmen folk who knew why they needed it. The two separate "councils" were well aware that such discussion in a mixed group would lead to cold taters on the dinner plate for one of them.

John


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Subject: RE: BS: The Whole Nine Yards?
From: Slag
Date: 05 Nov 10 - 02:08 AM

WWI early aircraft mounted machine guns. The pilots carried the canvas ammo belts to the aircrafts themselves and loaded the weapons. During air combat after you fired the "whole nine yards" it was time to get home quick. The idea here was that you did not want to give them the whole nine yards as that took you out of the battle and you had no defensive rounds left. The idea was picked up as having given your all: you gave the "whole nine yards". This is the fairly common explanation I heard while in the USAF.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Whole Nine Yards?
From: gnu
Date: 05 Nov 10 - 05:54 AM

Wikipedia... "Kilts are usually made without a hem because a hem would make the garment too bulky and cause it to hang incorrectly. The exact amount of fabric needed depends upon several factors including the size of the sett, the number of pleats put into the garment, and the size of the person. For a full kilt, 8 yards of fabric would be used regardless of size and the number of pleats and depth of pleat would be adjusted according to their size. For a very large waist, it may be necessary to use 9 yards of cloth."

I have always thought it referred to kilts.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Whole Nine Yards?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 05 Nov 10 - 07:14 AM

Kilts are one of the American urban legends about this phrase. Nobody says it in Scotland. That ought to tell you something.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Whole Nine Yards?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 05 Nov 10 - 07:48 AM

So it's more or less the American equivalent of the British expression "the full Monty", both in its meaning and in an element of uncertainty about its origin.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Whole Nine Yards?
From: catspaw49
Date: 05 Nov 10 - 08:42 AM

The length of my dick.................Well hell, it had to be said and around here I'm the one expected to say it, so there ya' go...................

Spaw


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Subject: RE: BS: The Whole Nine Yards?
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 05 Nov 10 - 11:37 AM

I have a personal favorite theory that, as far as I know, has never been published. I think "the whole nine yards" derives from an older expression "the whole megillah," which was (and occasionally still is) used in exactly the same way as "the whole nine yards."

The origin of "the whole megillah" is a lot easier to explain. "Megillah" is the Hebrew and Yiddish word for "scroll" and most often it specifically means the Book of Esther, which is read aloud in its entirety on the Jewish holiday of Purim.

It's a long reading, and it's natural, if you want to emphasize its length, to describe a scroll in terms of its physical length, e.g. "nine yards."

I have no idea how long a scroll really is, but even if "nine yards" is an exaggeration, it doesn't disprove the theory. Hyperbole is common in folklore.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Whole Nine Yards?
From: gnu
Date: 05 Nov 10 - 11:58 AM

Jack... I've never heard it in Scotland either.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Whole Nine Yards?
From: Richie Black (misused acct, bad email)
Date: 05 Nov 10 - 12:18 PM

The contents of a Marlin 0.30-inch light machine gun ammunition box was nine yards as was the Colt-Browning 0.30-inch machine gun.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Whole Nine Yards?
From: GUEST,B-26 Marauder Historical Society
Date: 05 Nov 10 - 01:42 PM

catspaw, I saw a post from Jan 2001 where you mention a Navy version of the B-26 sitting in from of your Legion hall. I am surprised to hear there is a Naval version on display. We like to keep an accurate list of all intact B-26 Marauders and would love to know which Legion hall or what city /state it is in.

Sure am looking forward to hearing back from you. email admin@B-26MHS.org


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Subject: RE: BS: The Whole Nine Yards?
From: gnu
Date: 05 Nov 10 - 01:47 PM

GUEST... I copied your post and PMd it to spaw so he doesn't miss it. Don't be worried if he doesn't get back to you in this thread right away. He spends a lot of time in the can.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Whole Nine Yards?
From: gnu
Date: 05 Nov 10 - 01:48 PM

Richie Black... I think we have a winner.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Whole Nine Yards?
From: Bill D
Date: 05 Nov 10 - 02:04 PM

Oh boy, oh boy... John in Kansas has a believable story similar to the one *I* just made up!

(and I remember as a kid...about 60 years ago... going with my mother and aunt to the feed store to find nice feed sacks for dresses. They didn't discuss yardage...or maybe 10 year-old boys don't pay attention.)


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Subject: RE: BS: The Whole Nine Yards?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 05 Nov 10 - 02:34 PM

In older English mills, a bolt was 30 yards, in more modern mills, cotton bolts were 100 yards.
In fabric stores, the roll of cloth is called a bolt, the length variable but usually 10 yards for cotton.
This doesn't seem to have anything to do with the expression.

Jim Dixon's explanation seems as good as any.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Whole Nine Yards?
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 27 Dec 12 - 11:19 AM

In the New York Times today:

The Whole Nine Yards About a Phrase's Origin
By Jennifer Schuessler
When people talk about "the whole nine yards," just what are they talking about?

For decades the answer to that question has been the Bigfoot of word origins, chased around wild speculative corners by amateur word freaks, with exasperated lexicographers and debunkers of folk etymologies in hot pursuit.

Does the phrase derive from the length of ammunition belts in World War II aircraft? The contents of a standard concrete mixer? The amount of beer a British naval recruit was obligated to drink? Yardage in football? The length of fabric in a Scottish kilt (or sari, or kimono, or burial shroud)?

Type the phrase into Google and you're likely to get any of these answers, usually backed by nothing more than vaguely remembered conversations with someone's Great-Uncle Ed. But now two researchers using high-powered database search tools have delivered a confident "none of the above," supported by a surprise twist:

Before we were going the whole nine yards, it turns out, we were only going six.

The recent discovery of several instances of "the whole six yards" in newspapers from the 1910s — four decades before the earliest known references to "the whole nine yards" — opens a new window onto "the most prominent etymological riddle of our time," said Fred Shapiro, a librarian at Yale Law School who announced the findings in next month's issue of The Yale Alumni Magazine.

Other language experts agree about the import of the discovery. "The phrase is interesting because it's so mysterious," said Ben Zimmer, the executive producer of Visual Thesaurus.com and Vocabulary.com, who has written previously on the search for its origin. "It's been a kind of Holy Grail."
...
But then Mr. Shapiro, searching in Chronicling America, a Library of Congress database of pre-1923 newspapers, found two 1912 articles in The Mount Vernon Signal in Kentucky promising to "give" or "tell" the "whole six yards" of a story. Ms. Taylor-Blake also found another instance from 1916, in the same paper.

The dating clearly refutes the popular ammunition-belt and concrete-mixer theories, Mr. Shapiro said, while the Kentucky focus suggests a probable "backwoods provenance." As for the meaning of the phrase, he added, the slippage from six yards to nine — part of the same "numerical phrase inflation," as he puts it, that turned "Cloud 7" to "Cloud 9" — suggests it doesn't refer to anything in particular any more than, say, "the whole shebang" does.

Jesse Sheidlower, the editor at large of the Oxford English Dictionary, agrees. "The existence of a six-yard variant shows pretty clearly that this is not about yards of anything," he said. "It's just a random number."

Mr. Shapiro concedes that he and Ms. Taylor-Blake have found only "negative evidence," and a firm origin story may yet emerge. But neither he nor Mr. Sheidlower is confident that scholarly research will dispel the urban legends that cling to expressions like "the whole nine yards."


Sorry -- no definitive answer there! But I've only copied an excerpt -- more at the link (with links there, too).

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: BS: The Whole Nine Yards?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 27 Dec 12 - 12:15 PM

Somebody asked upthread about 'caboodle' in the phrase 'kit and caboodle.' My unabridged dictionary says that 'caboodle' is a variant of 'boodle', which comes from the Dutch (or maybe it's Danish) word 'boedel' which means property or effects.

Apparently 'caboodle' only ever occurs in the phrase 'kit and caboodle.'

==========
I can't shed any light on the phrase 'the whole nine yards,' but I do want to note that numbers in the three family are more magical than other numbers. Thus we have the three kings, three wishes, the many stories about three brothers in fairy tales, and the saying "What I tell you three times is true."

(The Bible never gives the number of the wise men. The stories that there were three magi is later folklore.)

Nine, being 3 x 3, just packs a punch. On the other hand, who would speak of "the whole 8 yards?" It's asking to be snickered at.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Whole Nine Yards?
From: Jack the Sailor
Date: 27 Dec 12 - 12:43 PM

When George was courting Martha, they lived ten houses from each other. Not wanting her father to see him, he often took the back way to see her. As she was less interested in him than he in her, he was forced to traverse the whole nine yards and all of the fences separating them.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Whole Nine Yards?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 27 Dec 12 - 01:04 PM

Um, Jack. If that were the origin, the expression would be 'all nine yards,' not 'the whole nine yards.' Nice try, but no cigar.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Whole Nine Yards?
From: Jack the Sailor
Date: 27 Dec 12 - 01:42 PM

No, he needed to traverse the whole of each yard or else he would have to remain in the yard not crossed. I hereby reclaim my cigar.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Whole Nine Yards?
From: Megan L
Date: 27 Dec 12 - 02:13 PM

Weel a hate tae break it tae ye fowks but it is actually a missquote. Ye see it cam aboot like this. On the 28th day of December 1642 at about an hour before vespers my great great(add on a few more)grandfather Lawerence Barclay of Carnbo was partaking in a quiet game of golf wie his cronnie Wee Tam McKlewham. the day however was sadly nae o the best and the grimlins (Darkening) cam ower them afor they could finish the last hole.

But bein Scotsmaen they wur naethin if no determined tae finish so efter his shot disappeared intae the gloom Lawerence asked Wee Tam who had driven afore him
"How fare tae the hole" ( he requiring to know how long his final putt had to be since there was some five boab ridin on the outcome)
Wee Tam shouted back "The hole nine yards"

but them McKlewhams wur aye leers fur it wisny nine yards efter aw it wur ten and so a legend wis born.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Whole Nine Yards?
From: gnu
Date: 27 Dec 12 - 03:43 PM

Hehehee!

But, still, it's a proper Irish kilt.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Whole Nine Yards?
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 27 Dec 12 - 05:03 PM

For Lang Johnnie More maybe.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Whole Nine Yards?
From: Rumncoke
Date: 28 Dec 12 - 03:26 PM

I make kilts - nine yards is too much for a kilt for the average man these days - the obese might require nine yards, but the saying is too old to apply to the modern phenomenon of the supersized.


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