The Whole Nine Yards

First, as a window into my present mind set I probably should warn you I just tried to fold an ATM receipt more than seven times. Also, I’d like to make clear I spend my lonely, wee hours watching the Discovery Channel instead of getting wooed into responding to some goofy post about the etymology of some old … what was I saying?

I thought everyone knew the phrase “The Whole Nine Yards” came from the 27 feet of ammunition fed through WWII bombers’ guns. Thus, “We gave them the whole nine yards.”

Great site. Well done. And I’m sorry for a new post on an old subject but I couldn’t (OK, didn’t try) to enter a responsive post to an archived topic.

Welcome to the Straight Dope, savemefrommyself. Since your post is really a comment on one of Cecil’s columns (What’s the origin of “the whole nine yards”?), you should probably have checked in the forum, Comments on Cecil’s Columns rather thatn here in General Questions. One of the more recent threads in that forum is did the whole nine yards issue ever get resolved, where there’s an ongoing discussion of this very topic. Although the theory you propose seems very plausible, there are a couple issues with it, namely:

  1. What evidence is there that 27 ft. ammo belts were standard in WWII? What planes, if any, were they used on? and
  2. The earliest recorded use the the phrase was twenty years after WWII. Quite a gap.

If you do a search on “nine AND yards” you will find that this has been thoroughly hashed over–without resolution. In one of the threads, we actually dug up information on the amount of ammo carried by several planes–none of which actually worked out to nine yards.

Welcome to the SDMB, savemefrommyself. Hope you stick around.

Since this appears to be about one of Cecil’s columns, I’ll move this thread to the Comments on Cecil’s Columns forum. This topic has been discussed many times in that forum, but we won’t hold that against you because guests don’t have access to the search function. However, for a mere $14.95, the mysteries of the world could be at your fingertips.

moderator GQ