Discovery on "Whole Nine Yards"

Stephen Goranson goranson at DUKE.EDU
Wed Apr 28 15:52:29 UTC 2004

The example I used in January was "the whole ten Companies" from Machiavelli.
This pattern of usage, I think, is not new; I recall other recent examples,
from googling weeks ago.

My apology; I had not intended to impute your seeking some mystical meaning of
9. Others indeed have done so in regard to this phrase, so I merely added
those comments in contrast to the very specific place and specific, recent
time of origin.

Stephen Goranson

Quoting sagehen <sagehen at WESTELCOM.COM>:

> I wasn't ignoring the use of the term "yards" in reference to Montagnards,
> either individually or in tribes, or even questioning the expression "whole
> nine yards" in this connection in Vietnam; just wondering if it mightn't
> have had an earlier life that provided it as a coincidentally appropriate
> phrase for use there.  My reason  was simply that we ordinarily use "whole"
> in application to a single entity, but "all" referring to the parts of an
> aggregate.
> If "the whole/full 9 battalions" is or was in ordinary usage, rather than
> "the whole/full division", that certainly lends color to the Vietnam
> origin.
> As for the imputation that I sought some "mystical" meaning of 9, I am
> completely mystified.
> A Murie
> ~~~~~~~~~~>>

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