phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

The Whole Nine Yards

Posted by ESC on August 14, 2009 at 12:03

In Reply to: The Whole Nine Yards posted by M V Flores on August 13, 2009 at 04:50:

: : : : The Whole Nine Yards.

: : : : I remember using this term in 1967 in Air Force Surviver Training. Not sure what the standard Airborne parachute line length line was then, but we would cut it up and make rope (3 twisted lines) for use going off cliffs. So the term was to make sure you used the whole nine yards. Which my understanding then was that if you parachute jumped you hoped the whole nine yards open, then you would go down with "the whole nine yards'.

: : : : Since this was standard in the '60s find no reference to parachute lines on any of the uses of this term, why?

: : :
: : : It's not clear from your story whether you're talking about 9 yards of rope or 9 yards of fabric. A 27 foot rope (or was it a 9 foot rope?) wouldn't help you go off much of a cliff. Perhaps you tied everyone's ropes together?
: : : A standard military training chute (T-10) is 35 ft in diameter. Area = 1/4 * pi * diameter so the area is about 962 square feet or about 107 yards of fabric.

: : Also, in a parachute jump the thing that you hope will open is the canopy. The static line (the line attaching the chute to the aircraft, which rips off the ties of the chute pack as you jump, thus allowing the chute to open) doesn't "open" at all, in any conceivable sense. Furthermore, a modern military static line is only about 5 yards long. I don't suppose the length was much (if any) different in the 60s, and certainly a 9-yard static line would be utterly impracticable. (VSD)
: _______
: : : Thanks for the additional information which helps document the reference or 9 yards for the "lines" use to make the rope in Surviver Training. Mentioned that I was "Not sure... parachute line length" was that was used.

: : : As for length of the rope. We would cut it up and make rope (3 twisted lines) for use going off cliffs (which we did not know about and other uses). You bond 3 lines together at one end (rap threads and heat) then you start twisting the 3 lines which will form a single rope that will not separate. When you get a few feet from the end you cut one of the lines and bond a new line to the rope. A few feet later you do the same for the second line. The third, which you used the entire (or whole nine yards) line would be continued with a new line. This overlap would help keep the rope acting as a single continuous rope that would not separate (you hoped). From then on you just add a line (whole nine yards) until you got as long a rope as you wanted (or were instructed to make). Think we were to told 150 to 200 feet, which would be 6 to 8 times this process.

: : : No mention of static line, that was Army Airborne. In the Air Force we got flight pay for staying in the plane not jumping out of. So parachutes were something we all had and most of us never used.

: : : : : "A standard military training chute (T-10) is 35 ft in diameter. Area = 1/4 * pi * diameter so the area is about 962 square feet or about 107 yards of fabric". If this is true and I take your word for it, then l is ~ r, (or exactly = PI (r/3)). Therefore if diameter is 35 ft then r ~ l ~ 17.5 ft. Now taking the following from Parachute Constructions web sites: "Add the chute lines the same length as the gores (1.5l) zigzag stiched at the places where the gores were sewn together". So one calculation will get you 1.5 times 17.5 = 27.47 feet or about nine yards.

: : : Thank you. But still the question was: Why is there no reference to parachute lines on any of the uses of this term??

: : Maybe there is something deeply flawed in my maths (which is very possible) but by my reckoning 17.5 x 1.5 isn't 27.47.

: : DFG
: _________________

:
: : You're right even a slide rule would have done better. 26.25 feet, but still less than a foot from 9 yards. Actually if you used the exact rule for l = PI (r/3) then l = (3.14159) * (17.5/3) = 18.3259 feet; the 1.5l = 27.4889 feet. You get my first length if you use PI to two dec imals. Thought I had used l ~ r when I posted, but you pick em:
: : PI ~ 3 l = 17.5 feet and 1.5l = 26.25 feet
: : PI ~ 3.14 l = 18.3167 feet and 1.5l = 27.47 feet
: : PI ~ 3.14159 l = 18.3259 feet and 1.5l = 27.4889126 or 27.49 feet

: : : : : BUT BACK TO THE original question: is this close enough to the Whole Nine Yards? May not have been the first use but sure kept it going in the 60's.

: : : : Posted here after reading an article on this subject (know this is four years after 64, but still no mention of parachute lines). And this is not conjecture, this was the reason and the first time I remember using term. Article ended with :

: : : : If anyone has any hard evidence of this phrase being used before 1964, e.g. an appearance of the phrase in print, I would love to see it. Please post your feedback at the Phrase Finder Discussion Forum - but please, evidence not conjecture.

: : : : Copyright © Gary Martin, 1996 - 2009

: : : Mr. Flores, the answer to your original question is probably that you're the first person to send the parachute idea to this site, whereas some explanations are submitted over and over--football, cement trucks, fabric in a sari, sails on a ship, and a few others.

: : : By the way, when posting a reply, would you please leave intact what's above it? Erasing the earlier part of a discussion makes it harder to follow. ~rb

: : In the original post, you say you don't know how long the lines were. Your argument for this usage being the original usage only holds up if the lines are 27 feet long. If they were literally telling you to use the whole 9 yards = 27 feet (rather than the figurative "whole nine yards" = all of it) and you remember that they did that, it seems like you would have known that the lines were 27 feet long.
: : Additionally, if you have calculated one line _might_ be close to 27 feet (canopy to payload), each parachute has multiple (like 10 to 20 I'm guessing based on pictures) lines so one parachute would have hundreds of feet of line. This doesn't make sense with your statement about what they said if the chute didn't open about going down with the whole nine yards as there is a lot more than nine yards of line (or a lot more than nine yards of fabric in the canopy) in one parachute. Therefore, they must have meant the whole thing, the whole kit and kaboodle, the whole megillah, etc., i.e. they were already using the phrase as an idiom, not originating it.

: OK, sorry about rules of the road, recreated discussion postings.

: As for "you would have know that the lines were 27 feet." As stated in my original post (Not sure what the standard Airborne parachute line length line was then) This was survivor training and we were given what we would have survived with: a parachute, knife (part of flight gear), and flight suit. No yard stick. Term was not part of the instructions on making the rope, but was in general use. Would assume that would apply to anyone that used a parachute in the service in the 1960's.

: As for multiple or different lengths for lines, yes they are; but that is due to the variance of different types of parachutes. BUT as for military, round canopy type used in the day; the line length would be l = PI (r/3) and as Victoria posted "A standard military training chute (T-10) is 35 ft in diameter." Which would bring us back to the whole nine yards, more or less.

: Again, I have nothing to defend. I am just saying that this was the first I remember using the term. And that the main content for the term then was parachute lines, used by everyone there. Have used "The Whole Nine Yards" several times since (over 40 years), and have not touched a parachute line since I made that rope. Wore a chute several times but never had to go the whole nine yards. ~MVF

The military phrase books that I have all agree that the phrase is military in origin. One mentions "9 yards of machine gun belts" but says "More than likely it originated from an old Bri tish term ' up to the nines', meaning perfectly or thoroughly." FUBAR - Soldier Slang of World War II by Gordon L. Rottman, 2007, Osprey Publishing, Oxford. Page 196. That's a new one, isn't it?