Posted by Barney on November 08, 2002
In Reply to: A little more explanation posted by R. Berg on November 07, 2002
: : : : : : Four of my Uncles were in the Airforce during WWII.
One of them knew of the phrase during the war. The others either
couldn't say if they had heard of it during the war, or when they
first heard it.
: : : : : : The Whole Nine Yards was based on the length of the fighter's machine gun belt. If it took every bullet the fighter had to shoot down his foe, "It took the Whole nine yards"
: : : : :
: : : : : That machine gun must have been a special since no WWII aircraft that I am aware of accepted a 27ft belt of ammunition. Please establish which aricraft fitted with what make of machine gun - I may be wrong and wouldn't that be a good thing if it settled the origin of the "Whole Nine Yards" mystery.
: : : : I think the only sensible explanation is to combine as many of the theories on this one as possible - so on that basis, it's at least an old sailing ship with all 9 yards rigged with a collection of sails made from saris, great kilts, ammunition belts, NFL jerseys, and carrying cubic loads of cement.
: : : : There is a prize fund being held in in escrow for concrete (or tartan or whatever) proof of this phrase's origins. Last I heard was that, despite being unwisely invested in Enron stock, the fund had recovered to near on five whole US dollars. The Grand High Inquisitor and Keeper of the Treasury will no doubt post to confirm its current balance.
: : : Dear visitor: The respondents who posted above all dropped a heaping spoonful of sarcasm into their replies. This is what really happens: There are many ideas about the origin of "the Whole nine yards" and no solid evidence, so far, for any of them. Often someone posts one of those ideas here, either claiming to have the true origin or merely offering it as a possibility. Some of the regulars can then be seen jumping up and down laughing and pointing their fingers at the new guy. I think this response is rude and we should stop it, but people will do what they want to.
: : : The link below goes to a discussion of "the Whole nine yards" at the Meanings and Origins section of this site.
: : Sarcastic? SARCASTIC??? Heaping spoonful? Barely a soupcon - if that seems sarcastic to you, you need to get out more ;) I aimed for the mildly humorous, and was rather pleased that I'd (somewhat belabouredly, admittedly) managed to introduce a fair few of the other theories into the discussion. The request for extra info on the make of fighter plane and machine-gun is well-made, and it'd be nice to have this one laid to rest. My suspicions are however that the prize fund will remain unclaimed - colour me cynical (although not sarcastic - well, not on this occasion).
: I understand, and you indeed hit your aim of mild humo(u)r, but it seemed to me that a reader who knew of the ammo-belt hypothesis and not its competitors would be mystified by the mention of saris, ships, kilts, cement trucks, and so forth. He might wonder what on earth those people were talking about.
To venture an origin for 'the Whole nine yards' and not be aware of the competing claims smacks of incompotence - I don't believe that for an instant.