Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Thu Jan 3 14:50:12 UTC 2002

>... 'nine yards to the dollar' ....

I mentioned this passage on this list some time ago, in the "nine yards"
context. I believe that the implication is that nine yards was a somewhat
standard quantity of cloth which one might buy for a dress, etc. ... there
are other such citations ....  In this case I think the speaker is
imitating advertisements, particularly one for a store offering nine yards
of cloth for a dollar.

I still think "nine yards of cloth" is one of the viable candidates for the
ancestry of the recent "whole nine yards"; at least there are a few
citations to back it up ... where are the corresponding old (pre-1965)
citations to support the fashionable (and viable, I suppose) alternatives
involving ammo belts and concrete mixers? On the other hand there's quite
an interval of time between 1870 and 1965 ....

-- Doug Wilson

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