[Ads-l] "Full Nine Yards" from 1894

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Sun Aug 9 23:10:07 UTC 2015

On 8/9/2015 4:20 PM, Baker, John wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Baker, John" <JBAKER at STRADLEY.COM>
> Subject:      "Full Nine Yards" from 1894
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> On the Straight Dope Message Boards, a poster with the username Peter Morri=
> s (which sounds like it may also be his real name) has posted a link to wha=
> t appears to be the earliest example yet of "full nine yards."  The source =
> is a clinical lecture on the care of leg ulcers, and it includes the follow=
> ing passage:
> "[Y]ou will not cure this ulcer until you improve the nutrition of the leg,=
>   until you support the weakened, dilated veins.  This is best done by means=
>   of the many-tailed bandage and a flannel roller.  The soft cheese-cloth st=
> rips are cut long enough to overlap about three inches, are thoroughly wet =
> and applied very firmly over such local applications as you may adopt from =
> the root of the toes up to the knee, each strip half-way overlapping the on=
> e below.  It is essential that the roller should be of first-class flannel,=
>   containing little or no cotton, or it will be too rigid and unyielding.  T=
> his is wet thoroughly, squeezed out and firmly applied over the cotton stri=
> ps, beginning with a circular turn behind the toes, over the ankle with a f=
> igure-of-eight, and up the leg by spiral reverse turns.  Do not use the fig=
> ure-of-eight above the ankle, as it does not make the necessary firm, equab=
> le pressure, and do not be stingy with your bandage, but use the full nine =
> yards."
> James S. Chenoweth, M.D., Demonstrator of Surgery in the University of Loui=
> sville, Chronic Ulcer of the Leg:  Clinical Lecture Delivered at the Univer=
> sity of Louisville, in International Clinics:  A Quarterly of Clinical Lect=
> ures vol. III (4th series), 217, at 219 (1894), https://books.google.com.au=
> /books?id=3D7phXAAAAMAAJ&q=3D%22full+nine+yards%22&dq=3D%22full+nine+yards%=
> 22&hl=3Den&sa=3DX&ved=3D0CBwQ6AEwAGoVChMI_bn6gMKcxwIV5K7bCh1iaQCH#v=3Dsnipp=
> et&q=3D%22full%20nine%20yards%22&f=3Dfalse.  If that long URL doesn't work,=
>   https://books.google.com.au/books?id=3D7phXAAAAMAAJ should get you to the =
> book, and then you can find page 219.
> There is no earlier reference in the lecture to the length of the bandage, =
> so this does not appear to be a literal use of "nine yards."  Google's Adva=
> nced Book Search, https://books.google.com/advanced_book_search?hl=3Den, do=
> es not find this book, so it may be significant that the contributor used b=
> ooks.google.com.au.
> There is a brief biography of Dr. Chenoweth at https://books.google.com/boo=
> ks?id=3DsUoVAAAAYAAJ&pg=3DPA1077&lpg=3DPA1077&dq=3Djames+chenoweth+%22unive=
> rsity+of+louisville%22&source=3Dbl&ots=3D14TnWP9dp_&sig=3DL3Ykn2QrfhMHoMBOC=
> X-UkYcMZno&hl=3Den&sa=3DX&ved=3D0CCEQ6AEwAmoVChMIxazYg-OcxwIVS5MeCh31zAej#v=
> =3Donepage&q=3Djames%20chenoweth%20%22university%20of%20louisville%22&f=3Df=
> alse.  He was from Jefferson County, Kentucky (the county in which Louisvil=
> le is located) and would have been no more than 26 or 27 at the time of thi=
> s lecture.  Louisville is about 60 miles from Mitchell, Indiana, where the =
> earliest previously known modern example of "full/whole nine yards" is foun=
> d, from 1907.

I think this is a literal use.

Nine yards apparently was a usual length (although not by any means 
universal) for lower extremity roller bandages.

One can search (e.g.) <<bandage "nine yards">> or <<"roller bandage" 
"nine yards">> at G-books.

(Similar results appear for lengths of (e.g.) seven, eight, ten yards, 
at a glance.)

-- Doug Wilson

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

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