Posted by The Fallen on February 19, 2002
I was idly skimming through the posts below on that perennial favourite "the Whole nine yards", and the length of material used in a kilt explanation caught my eye. On checking up on that (and it's wrong - the great kilt uses 12 ells aka 12 x 50 inches of material folded in half), I found the article on the site below that neatly collects a number of the apocryphal origins for this expression. It's worth checking out if you don't know of it - I especially liked the imaginative sailing ship masts theory and the debunking of the truckload of concrete myth - but don't expect an answer. Doesn't it just give you a buzz about language when a commonly used expression that's apparently less than 50 years old has untraceable origins? My personal theory is that the phrase "the Whole nine yards" used to be an entirely different phrase altogether, but was given a complete new identity by the FBI's witness protection program.