Posted by Christina Smoothly on February 27, 2001
In Reply to: Dressed to the nines posted by Charles Hurt on December 28, 1999
: anyone know the origen of the phrase "Dressed to the nines?"
One theory is that it came from an Old English saying "dressed to the eyes," or to please the beholder, which, in the peculiar spelling of Old English, would have appeared "dressed to then eyne." Through a process called "metanalysis," in which letters from one word migrate over time to a neighboring word, "then eyne" might have become "the neyne" and then "the nines." A similar metanalytic process transformed "a napron" (related to "napkin") to our modern "an apron."