Expressions with Number Variation

Dave Wilton dave at WILTON.NET
Thu Sep 13 22:40:37 UTC 2012

There's "Eskimos have ## words for snow." Lots of variability in that one.

There's also "seventh heaven" and "third heaven," although these derive from
different theological concepts rather than linguistic variability, the seven
from Judaism and Islam, and the three from Paul's vision of three heavens.

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of
Shapiro, Fred
Sent: Thursday, September 13, 2012 5:00 PM
Subject: Expressions with Number Variation

In connection with the discovery that the original formulation of "the whole
nine yards" may well have been "the whole six yards," Dave Wilton has
pointed out that "there are many examples of phrases with numbers that went
through multiple versions with different numerical values before settling on
the one that became canonical (e.g., 'cloud nine')."  Can Dave or anyone
else give me other examples of this kind of number variation?

Fred Shapiro

The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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