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Re: Dressed to the nines

Posted by Victoria S Dennis on February 22, 2009 at 11:49

In Reply to: Dressed to the nines posted by Tara on February 22, 2009 at 08:27:

: I always thought that "nines" was short for "canines" and referred to your teeth. So dressed to the nines would be looking great from toe to teeth.


The problem with that idea is that, as remarked in the "Meanings and origins" section (http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/dressed-to-the-nines.html), although now we only use "to the nines" with "dressed", its first known uses in the early 18th century don't refer to dress or appearance, and simply mean "to the utmost, to the highest standards" in general. (A secondary point is that in the 18th century only scientists and scholars would have referred to the dog-teeth by their Latin name of "canines", and so the word would have stood no chance of forming part of a popular phrase.) (VSD)