"the whole nine yards" 1942

Stephen Goranson goranson at DUKE.EDU
Thu Jul 12 10:22:35 UTC 2007

Of course the 1942 use of "the whole nine yards" refers to nine shipyards. The
first usage was literal and emphatic; later uses would be metaphorical. As for
the suggestion that practically no one attended this hearing: besides senators
including Truman and five others, and at least two admirals, perhaps senate
staffers (including chief counsel Fulton and assistant Clark), perhaps a
stenographer (perhaps professional and competent), perhaps representatives of
Walsh-Kaiser Co. Inc., makers of many millions of dollars on this deal,
repesentatives of labor unions, with whom Admiral Land had rocky relations,
perhaps a reporter, perhaps a citizen interested in the war effort. That the
phrase recurs in Congress Defense appropriations hearings, and in Test Pilot
proceedings, and in a graphic drafting journal, and in military use may
clues where to look for more occasions. By now I think it is fairly clear that
"yards" here does not mean thirty-six inch units (nor...Montagnards); items of
an ensemble, rather than identical units of linear measure. (Hence, earlier
quotes of linear measure yards, I suggest, become irrelevant to the case.)

Speaking of test pilot proceedings, here's a longer piecing-together (possibly
with mistaken sequence of text blocks on that page) of the 1966 google-snippet
reported by Bonnie:

1966 U.Mich. copy:  [page 176 top] "aircraft, or if the systems are so dense
that the aircraft is vulnerable, or the system is vulnerable, you can have an
aircraft that you can lose pretty easily. I think the P-51 of World War II
might be an example. One system was tht [sic, the] coolant
system that was vulnerable and if you lost that you were in trouble.
Suppression, if you lack a little bit of speed and you lack surprise and your
systems are vulnerable, then you better have an awful lot of ability to ...
A World War II fighter flying at 300 miles an hour, hit by a bullet,
chances are
you would get a couple of neat holes in it. But when you step that up to 600
knots and get a prag in there, it is apt to tear, in addition to going through
some dense or vulnerable systems.
.....There are several answers to vulnerability problems produced by subsystem
arrangements. Self-sealing tanks were touched on this morning.
Armor plating around vital areas can help protect sub-systems.  Certainly
emergency mechanical linkage for control systems is an item we are all
interested in.  Then two-engines, two pilots, and the rest, the nine yards of
things that we have really all been aware of for a long time and should pay a
lot more attention to..." [keywords include: southeast asia, dong xoai, phuoc

Stephen Goranson

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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