question on "the nine yards of blank paper" 1917

Bonnie Taylor-Blake b.taylorblake at GMAIL.COM
Sun Sep 15 18:49:10 UTC 2013

On Sun, Sep 15, 2013 at 12:51 PM, Stephen Goranson <goranson at> wrote:

> Thanks, Bonnie, though I wonder whether we may compare the following three texts a bit differently. (And, in context, do your 1940 and 1956 texts convey a sense of everything or completeness [and may full/whole/entire story be an instantiation of everything?]? Also, I'm unclear about your use of "Or." Of course I agree that more relevant texts likely may help, and you may prefer to wait till then.)

Yes, I agree, Stephen, that your 1917 find immediately brings to mind
the "all nine yards of goodies" (1962) and "the nine yards of things"
(1966).  I actually included this agreement in an earlier draft of my
last reply to you, but decided to scrap that since I figured we were
on the same page (and I seem to recall that you had mentioned that
earlier anyway).

And, no, my "nine yards of" from 1940 and 1956 did not convey a sense
of everything or completeness.  It's only that these two columnists
had once used "nine yards of" hyperbolically, to convey "a lot," which
I was at the time hoping hinted at "nine yards" as a lurking meme for
"a lot."

And I used "or" in my previous reply only because I was asking for
clarification as to whether you were honing in specifically on "paper"
and the sense of information-sharing/"the whole story" (in addition to
"the nine yards of").  In other words, I was curious whether you were
interested in "the nine yards of blank paper" not just because it
signified "a lot" and the telling of everything, but also because it
involved paper (something that's come up here before in terms of
newsprint, for example).  I think I understand where you're coming
from now.

As I've mentioned before, I think it's possible that "the whole
six/nine yards" may have been related to a sense of
information-sharing or the telling/giving of "the long version"
without any link to literal yards of anything tangible.  Your 1917
find is good to have and might strengthen that argument.

-- Bonnie

The American Dialect Society -

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