The whole nine yards

In World War II the ammunition belts in airplanes were 27 feet or 9 yards long. When you used all your ammo on one enemy plane it was said that he got the whole nine yards. :wally

When commenting on one of Cecil’s columns, it is customary to provide a link to said column. Thank you.

We have chatted about this before in this forum here , here , here , here , here , here , here , and maybe even here .

The problem with this theory is that “the whole nine yards” doesn’t appear in print until the 1960s. If it was a common expression during World War II, then it should have appeared in print in the 1940s or the 1950s somehow.

Welcome to the Straight Dope Message Board, skyward 22!

It often helps to search the Archives before posting a question or comment, as many have been discussed before. As Czarcasm notes, there are no fewer than eight previous threads on “the whole nine yards” in the last year alone. The settled opinion is that Cecil is right (no surprise) – no one knows. A search of other reputable language sites will reveal the same.

– Beruang

Alright, here it is, the definitive answer, a mnemonic device;

thorium - helium
tungsten - hydrogen - oxygen - lithium - erbium
nickel - neon
yttrium - argon - dysprosium - sulfur

ThHe WHeOLiEr Nine YArDyS

When you add their atomic numbers;

90+2+74+1+8+3+68+28+10+39+18+66+16 = 423

is divisible by 9.

This, of course, is the chemical makeup of BULLSHIT!