Posted by Bruce Kahl on December 07, 1999

In Reply to: Phrase posted by david meckley on December 06, 1999

: What is the meaning of, "The whole ball of wax"?

One possibility was a peculiar practice used to divide estates under English law in the 17th century. The parts of the estate would be written down on scraps of paper, which would then be rolled into small balls of wax and tossed into a hat. Each beneficiary would then pick a ball from the hat, thus determining his or her share. If one of those present wasn't satisfied with the luck of the draw, tough -- whatever was inside his or her ball was "the whole ball of wax."