"the whole nine yards"
gcohen at UMR.EDU
Thu Aug 5 21:38:25 UTC 1999
An Aug. 2 message from Grant Barrett passed along the following request
>>I will be conducting a diversity presentation on Slang. I was asked for
>>the origin of "the whole nine yards" and "the whole enchilada". Do you
>>know where I might find that info and the origin of other slang terms?
>nyrrod at att.net
------The _San Diego Union Tribune_, March 11, 1997, sec. E., pp.1,3
contains an article entitled "Show Me The Phrases! by staff writer Gil
Griffin. Griffin had interviewed Thomas Donahue, a San Diego State
University linguistics professor for the article, and one part is relevant
to Mr. Drumm's above query:
"''The whole nine yards' has origins in World War II ... It came from
World War II fighter pilots in the South Pacific,' Donahue said, recalling
a letter he received about the phrase.
"'The pilots had '50 caliber machine gun ammuntion belts that measured
27 feet. If the pilots fired all their ammo at a target, they said they
let go the whole nine yards.
"'The saying remains, 50-plus years later,' Donahue said, 'because
it's still an easy way to express totality."
-----For an overall discussion of the expression, see my item in the
November 1998 issue (vol. 28, no. 2) of _Comments on Etymology_, pp.1-4;
(title): "_Whole Nine Yards --Most Plausible Derivation Seems To Be From
WWII Fighter Pilots' Usage."
gcohen at umr.edu
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