Additional Information on "The Whole Six Yards"

Shapiro, Fred fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU
Sat Sep 8 13:59:12 UTC 2012

Two additional comments on Bonnie Taylor-Blake's discovery of "the whole six yards" as an apparent precursor of "the whole nine yards" and my confirmation of the plausibility of that theory:

Chronicling America also seems to have a hit for "whole six yards" in the June 28, 1912 issue of the same Kentucky newspaper (the Mount Vernon Signal), but when I try to look at the June 28 newspaper page, I get the error message "Requested resource could not be found."  It seems likely that in that hidden June 28 page is another legitimate usage of "whole six yards," further suggesting some kind of old Kentucky idiom at the root of "the whole nine yards."

It should be emphasized that these discoveries can easily be interpreted as disproving all World War II-related explanations of "the whole nine yards."

Fred Shapiro
YALE BOOK OF QUOTATIONS (Yale University Press)

From: American Dialect Society [ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] on behalf of Shapiro, Fred [fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU]
Sent: Saturday, September 08, 2012 9:02 AM
Subject: More on "The Whole Six Yards"

OK, I think I've got some confirmation that Bonnie's discovery of "the whole six yards" is a very significant one.  Here is a 1912 article that seems to use "the whole six yards" in the sense of "the exhaustive version," similarly to later usage of "the whole nine yards."  Interestingly, it is from Kentucky, the locus of the earliest known citations (also found by Bonnie) of "the whole nine yards."

1912 _Mount Vernon (KY) Signal_ 17 May 1 (Chronicling America)  But there is one thing sure, we dems would never have known that there was such crookedness in the Republican party if Ted and Taft had not got crossed at each other.  Just wait boys until the fix gets to a fever heat and they will tell the whole six yards.

Fred Shapiro

The American Dialect Society -

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