Posted by ESC on November 11, 1999
In Reply to: OK, here's the deal posted by Bob on November 10, 1999
: : I have seen and heard messages about this phrase coming from cement trucks and scottish kilt makers, but I believe this to be wrong. The phrase was made in reference to gunners in World War 2. The ammunition belts of a 50 calliber machine gun (used to shoot at enemy planes) were 27 feet long (nine yards). If the gunner used his entire belt of ammunition on a plane, he was giving him, "The Whole nine yards." If this is not true, I would like someone to send me another answer with some supporting evidence. I always thought that this was just common knowledge?
: Ok, I'm offering the First Annual Transatlantic 9 Yards Grand Prize... to the first person to find an authentic text reference, dated pre-1946, citing "the whole 9 yards" as referring to a machine-gun belt, I will award a "Phrase Derivation Super Sleuth" certificate (with gold seal) ... plus a $1 Cash Bonus. If indeed it was common knowledge, there ought to be at least a few hundred citations available in WWII newspapers, magazines, books, newsreels, whatever. Happy hunting!
But if we knew for sure, that would spoil the fun.