The whole nine yards

Posted by Barney on December 01, 2003

In Reply to: The whole nine yards posted by Bob on November 30, 2003

: : : I heard from an old timer that "the Whole nine yards" had to do with American machinegunners in WWI. In a charge by the enemy in the trenches, and about to be overrun, an American or Allied gunner might be ordered to "give 'em the Whole nine yards" -- which was the entire belt of ammo fed through the machinegun.

: Long-time visitors to this site will recall that we have a standing prize* to go to the person bringing in an authentic text reference (book, newspaper, letter home from the front, whatever) that uses TWNY prior to 1960. The prize remains unclaimed, despite the absolute certainty of everyone's ____ (fill in relation) that it comes from kilts/football/cement mixers/machine gun belts and has been common since ______ (fill in war.)
: *The prize, including a certificate of heroism, was originally $5 US, but was imprudently invested in a series of corporate stock ventures. The value dipped to $3.08 at one point, but shrewd investments in roulette-wheel spins has it back up to $4.36.

I have my eye on that $4.36 and am still searching daily in the British Library for the authentic link which connects the 17th century saying 'nine yard hole' - which denoted a family sized nine cubic yard plague grave - with the more modern expression 'whole nine yards'. Do not invest that $4.36 imprudently for it is not yours; you merely hold it in trust.