the whole nine yards

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The origin is unknown, but many conjectures exist.[1][2][3]

The earliest known print appearance in these senses is in an article by Stephen Trumbell in the 1964-04-25 Tuscon Daily Citizen, titled “Talking Hip in the Space Age” and discussing NASA jargon: “‘Give ’em the whole nine yards’ means an item-by-item report on any project.”[4]

The synonymous variant “all nine yards” appeared in a letter from Gale F. Linster to the editor of the 1962-12 Car Life.[5]

An earlier variant, “whole six yards”, is attested from 1912, which appears to invalidate various theories that attach specific import to the nine yards (such as a theory connecting it to the length of machine gun ammunition belts on World War II B-17 bombers, and one connecting it to the amount of concrete that a concrete mixer can hold), as well as theories that postulate a World War II origin.[6]


the whole nine yards

  1. All the way; with everything done completely or thoroughly.
    • 2007, Thomas Mchenry, Along the Rails: A Juror's Journey[7], page 85:
      Would they want me to vote my conscience or would they want us to unanimously go the whole nine yards, declare him sane and possibly have the trial end up in a death sentence?
    • 2007, R. D. Reynolds, The Wrestlecrap Book of Lists![8], page 18:
      WWE went the whole nine yards, from making Tshirts with the slogan to having announcers mention his new handle approximately every four seconds anytime he was on-screen.
    • 2012, Susan Stephens, Working with the Enemy[9], page 164:
      Colleen had gone the whole nine yards, dressing up as a fortune teller, complete with huge gold earrings and a headscarf, which she'd plucked from her normal accessory box, she told Bronte.


the whole nine yards

  1. (And) everything; often used, like etc., to finish out a list.
    • 2002, Mary Losure, Our Way Or the Highway: Inside the Minnehaha Free State[10], page 161:
      "I had a good job, a nice little house, the whole nine yards," she said.
    • 2009, Jason Barbacovi, Me and Chairman Mao[11], page 101:
      No, to her credit she kept right on going the whole time, telling me how she was from Mongolia, how she was an art student, how she was having an exhibition — the whole nine yards.
    • 2009, Reynaldo Laureano, Politics Vs. Prejudice in the Highway Patrol[12], page 46:
      Mario asked me to explain to him the whole nine yards so I decided to start off on a good note.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Adams, Cecil (1987-04-10, with updates since), “The Straight Dope: What's the origin of "the whole nine yards"?”, in (Please provide the title of the work)[1], retrieved 2007-06-21
  2. ^ Quinion, Michael (1999-03-20, last updated 2005-06-30), “World Wide Words: The Whole Nine Yards”, in (Please provide the title of the work)[2], retrieved 2007-06-21
  3. ^ Martin, Gary (accessed 2007-06-21), “The whole nine yards”, in (Please provide the title of the work)[3]
  4. ^ Zimmer, Benjamin (2007-06-21), “Language Log: Great moments in antedating”, in (Please provide the title of the work)[4], retrieved 2007-06-21
  5. ^ Zimmer, Benjamin (2007-11-12), “Language Log: Great moments in antedating, part 2: all nine yards of goodies”, in (Please provide the title of the work)[5], retrieved 2007-11-13
  6. ^ Schuessler, Jennifer (2012-12-26), “ The Whole Nine Yards About a Phrase’s Origin”, in (Please provide the title of the work)[6], retrieved 2012-12-29