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The whole megillah

The whole megillah means the entirety of something, especially something that is an entanglement of intricate arrangements or a long, complicated story. The whole megillah is an American idiom taken from Yiddish. In Hebrew, the Megillah is one of five books read on special Jewish feast days. The Book of Esther, read on Purim, is especially long and complicated. A tedious and complicated story came to be called the gantse Megillah in Yiddish, which translates as the whole Megillah. The term migrated into mainstream American English in the 1950s, probably through Jewish performers in nightclubs, on radio and on television. The idiom the whole megillah was tremendously popularized by its use on the television show Laugh-In on American television in 1971. When referring to the scriptures, Megillah is capitalized. When used in the idiom the whole megillah, the lowercase m is used.


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Examples

We’ll pick up some wild mushrooms at the market and sauté them in butter, then hit them with a splash of red wine, reduce the whole thing down to a glaze, season them with salt and pepper and dump the whole megillah over a bowl of buttered pasta. (The New York Times)

My prediction is that, if Donald Trump should win the whole megillah (which is not impossible, considering that Hillary Clinton’s flaws as a candidate are arguably greater than his), many of those backing him now will come to regret their support. (The Portland Press Herald)

For some families, Thanksgiving dinner means wives, husbands, children, grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, and cousins – even in-laws, the whole megillah – dressed in their holiday finest, gathered together around a beautifully appointed table enjoying a feast of turkey, stuffing, cranberries, yams, and green bean casserole. (The Huffington Post)

For Democrats, an opportunity lost in Hampton Roads might be made up in Northern Virginia, with the whole megillah decided by a seat in the Richmond area. (The Richmond Times-Dispatch)

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