whole nine yards

whole nine yards

Meaning

  • everything, all of something
  • in its entirety, all of it
  • the whole of something, full measure
  • everything that is possible

Example Sentences

  1. She is the love of my life. For her, I’ll go the whole nine yards.
  2. The mountain trail was a difficult one, but I wanted to go the whole nine yards.
  3. We have watched every single episode of this serial, from the first to the final one, the whole nine yards.
  4. He has a toolkit with every kind of tool in all sizes – jacks, wrenches, screwdrivers – the whole nine yards.
  5. I’ll do whatever it takes to make my venture a successful one – I’ll go the whole nine yards.
  6. The story was interesting, but we had to leave midway. We didn’t get the whole nine yards.
  7. This is going to be difficult; we want a person who can go the whole nine yards.
  8. It was an adventurous tour, but we didn’t go the whole nine yards.

Origin

The precise origin of this idiom remains a mystery to linguists. There are many beliefs about the origin, you can read our users’ suggested thoughts below.

The earliest use is believed to be in 1907 in America, but it became popular during the 1960s.

The earliest printed non-idiomatic use of the phrase in the New Albany Daily Ledger (New Albany, Indiana, January 30, 1855) in an article called “The Judge’s Big Shirt.”

“What a silly, stupid woman! I told her to get just enough to make three shirts; instead of making three, she has put the whole nine yards into one shirt!”

The original known use of the phrase as an idiom appears in The Mitchell Commercial, a newspaper in the small town of Mitchell, Indiana, in its May 2, 1907 edition:

“This afternoon at 2:30 will be called one of the baseball games that will be worth going a long way to see. The regular nine is going to play the business men as many innings as they can stand, but we can not promise the full nine yards.”

W 3 Thoughts

3 Thoughts

In the early 20th century steam shovels were used to transport coal throughout the country for heating purposes. Those shovels were rated by their bucket size in cubic yards. As dump trucks increased in size to carry larger loads, the 10 cubic yard tandem axel truck also became a standard. Independent haulers with such trucks would tell the coal yard operator with great pride that they would take, “the whole nine yards” when they arrived to load their trucks. This expression became a symbol of great pride for truckers who had the wherewithall to handle an entire bucket load of coal. It also saved the crane operator the trouble of having to guesstimate how much of a bucket he would need to scoop for a smaller dump truck as well as the worry of possibly overloading a dump truck with coal. One scoop and done. Next! Eventually the expression translated to any business that sought to optimize its operations in such a manner.

- Stiles Peabody June 24, 2020

I read somewhere that the phrase has military origins. In WW2 fighter pilots in combat used magazines containing bullets. These magazines were 9 yards long. After destroying enemy aircraft, pilots often would comment, “I gave him the whole nine yards.”

- Anonymous May 28, 2019

Actually the origin seems to be from the Mahabharat. King Pandu, the father of the Pandavas, laid a foundation of 9 yards for some structure and it has been seen in many folklores.

- Kuldeep Singh Rathore April 20, 2018

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