The Whole Nine Yards

Meaning

What does The Whole Nine Yards mean?

The Whole Nine Yards, also encountered as The Whole 9 Yards is a popular American colloquial expression, used synonymously to the phrase “the whole thing”, describing people doing tasks and telling stories all in one go.

Origin

What's the origin of The Whole Nine Yards?

“The whole nine yards” counts as a peculiarity among etymologists, due to the fact that its exact origin is not proven by anyone, as only hypotheses exist on its genesis.

Some link it to the Gatling gun, claiming that the phrase refers to the 9 yards long ammo strip, that contained several magazines of ammunition for the weapon, while others link it to football, where the attacking team has to advance 10 yards, and if they do so in one round, they take “The whole nine yards” in one go.

These claims are unsound though, especially the hypothesis on the Gatling gun, due to the fact that the expression appeared in print as early as 1855, in the 4th Volume of “Yankee Notions”.

Spread & Usage

How did The Whole Nine Yards spread?

“The whole nine yards” started becoming more prevalent following World War 2, by that time appearing in newspapers and various other media regularly.

Its origins started puzzling researchers in the second half of the 20th century, spawning countless studies, publications and discussions about the topic.

The expression’s popularity was further boosted in 2000, when the crime comedy flick titled “The Whole Nine Yards” premiered in cinemas.

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