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Comments on "The Whole Nine Yards"    (original)

Guest Sunday, July 3, 2005 at 2:07 PM

The following appeared in the Library:

"The term 'the whole 9 yards" came from WWII fighter pilots in the
Pacific. When arming their airplanes on the ground, the .50 caliber
machine gun ammo belts measured exactly 27 feet, before being loaded into the fuselage. If the pilots fired all their ammo at a target, it got "the whole 9 yards.'"

This is incorrect.  The term did not originate with pilots in the South Pacific or anywhere else for that matter.

The term "The Whole 9 Yards" refers to earthmoving which is measured in cubic yards.  The old (small) dump trucks contained approximately 9 cubic yards per load.  The term "the whole 9 yards" referred to the total contents of the truck and referred to emptying the truck.  The term passed into common usage and came to mean a total effort.  Everybody used it.

-- Paul Garner

Guest Wednesday, October 24, 2007 at 3:45 AM

Curtis Wednesday, October 24, 2007 at 5:40 PM

As near as I can tell, like many other phrases in the English language, there is no definitive origin to this phrase.  If Cecil Adams can't figure it out, it will probably remain a mystery.  Feel free to embrace your favorite theory.


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