[Ads-l] "To the nines"

Bonnie Taylor-Blake b.taylorblake at GMAIL.COM
Mon Feb 16 16:40:29 UTC 2015

I've noticed that the following offering for the origin of "to the
nines" is listed on both the Wikipedia page for that expression (no
surprise) and on the Wikipedia page for "the whole nine yards."


Another possibility is that it borrows from French, where "neuf" means
both "new" and "9." "Mes souliers sont neufs" means "my shoes are
new." So, dressing to the nines would refer to someone whose outfit
was "neuf," or new.  [From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/To_the_nines]


I'm reasonably certain that's simply a tidy pet theory crafted by he
or she who contributed the "possibility" (especially since there's no
citation for that origin-theory), but could that excerpt be based on a
previously (and seriously) offered theory for the idiom's origin that
I don't know about?  It seems very proto-etymythological to me.

-- Bonnie

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

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