The Whole Ball of Wax (1955)

Michael Quinion TheEditor at WORLDWIDEWORDS.ORG
Wed Sep 4 19:08:36 UTC 2002

>     I might as well do the whole ball of wax.  This is the
> earliest, as spoken by Leo Durocher of Willie Mays.
>    29 May 1955, NEW YORK TIMES, pg. 115: "Willie might have hit it
> out of here and that would have been the whole ball of wax."

I have found a slightly earlier and less elliptical form of the
expression in "The Big Ball of Wax" by Shepherd Mead (the man who
wrote "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying"), published
in 1954. The narrator introduces his story with: "Well, why don't we
go back to the beginning and roll it all up, as the fellows say, into
one big ball of wax?" It seems clear from the context that it comes
out of Madison Avenue.

Michael Quinion
Editor, World Wide Words
E-mail: <TheEditor at>
Web: <>

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