More "full nine yards"

Mullins, Bill Bill.Mullins at US.ARMY.MIL
Mon Nov 14 21:19:27 UTC 2005

>From searching Google Print.

_South Shore Phrase Book:  A New, Revised and Expanded Nova Scotia
Dictionary_  Compiled by Lewis J. Poteet.  IUniverse. Lincoln, NE 1983,
2004.  "The words and phrases collected in this book are from the
coastal villages between St. Margaret's Bay, near Halifax, and Woods
Harbour, near Yarmouth, the South Shore of Nova Scotia."

p.49.  full nine yards -- a way of saying that someone is dependable, to
do a thoroughly good job, derived from clipper ship terms.  "He will
really go the full nine yards!" -- Cape Sable Island.  The nine yards
were the crossbars on the three masts of the clipper ships, fastest
sailing ships, which for a short time in the nineteenth century
dominated world transport.  This term is also heard in Atlantic maritime
regions in the United States, especially Massachusetts. . . See also

p.106  spoilt to the nines -- fully spoiled.  Eric Partridge cites
several other uses of this way of making a superlative, and guesses that
the source is the number nine, which is a mystic number connoting
perfection.  However it seems equally likely that the source of this and
the more familiar "dressed to the nines" is the nine yards of a fully
rigged sailing ship.  See FULL NINE YARDS.  Partridge identifies the
expression as colloquial since the 18th century.

I've seen "full/whole nine yards" attributed to sailing before.  This is
the first I've ever seen it put into a specific region's vocabulary.

Of course, that don't make it right . . . .

More information about the Ads-l mailing list