Discovery on "Whole Nine Yards"

Dave Wilton dave at WILTON.NET
Mon Apr 26 03:31:01 UTC 2004

> -----Original Message-----
> From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU]On Behalf
> Of Fred Shapiro
> Sent: Sunday, April 25, 2004 8:06 PM
> Subject: Discovery on "Whole Nine Yards"
> I have discovered some significant new evidence on "whole nine yards."
> Stephen Goranson has energetically promoted the theory that "whole nine
> yards" derives from "yards" referring to the Montagnard tribes in Vietnam.
> I don't think too many people find this convincing, but Mr. Goranson has
> performed the useful service of emphasizing that all the earliest known
> citations were from a Vietnam War context, suggesting some kind of
> Vietnam-related origin.
> However, I have now found what I believe is the second oldest occurrence
> of "whole nine yards" (Elaine Shepard's 1967 Vietnam-related book _Doom
> Pussy_ is the oldest known). yields the following:
> 1969 _Playground Daily News_ (Fort Walton Beach, Fla.) 25 Apr. 15
> (advertisement)  This home has the "whole nine yards" in convenience.
> It is of course possible that "whole nine yards" could have disseminated
> from a Vietnam origin to Florida in the three or more years between when
> it was first used in the Vietnam War and 1969.  However, 1969 is early
> enough to suggest that the term may have originated in the United States
> rather than in Indochina.

Note that Fort Walton Beach is home to Eglin Air Force Base. So an Air Force
connection (as in _Doom Pussy_) remains a viable possibility.

--Dave Wilton
  dave at

More information about the Ads-l mailing list