another 1964 "the whole nine yards"? (UNCLASSIFIED)

victor steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Tue Jul 26 06:52:37 UTC 2011

One more guess at possible origin of the phrase, one that has not been
mentioned before.

A standard US submarine-based torpedo in WWII and later (through the 1970s,
it seems) was Mark 14, which was about 21 ft long, or 7 yards. On the other
hand, the standard WWII Japanese Type 93 torpedo was 9 m long, or about 9
yards. Is it possible that "giving the whole 9 yards" initially meant
blowing something up with a torpedo?

This would certainly preserve the Navy origin of the phrase. (An alternative
theory--or cluster of theories--placed the origin with the 1920s-30s
Midwestern farmers. Another group of theories gave NASA as the progenitor,
but that certainly seems to be a stretch.)

Once again, this is mere speculation but one that is based on some stable


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