Whole ball of wax

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The whole ball of wax means the whole thing, everything. The whole ball of wax is an American idiom of uncertain origin, so far it has been traced back to at least the 1880s. Many apocryphal stories have sprung up to explain the origin of the phrase the whole ball of wax, but it is most likely a mondegreen of the idiom the whole bailiwick, meaning the whole territory. According to Google’s Ngram, the popularity of the term the whole ball of wax has risen quickly since the 1960s, which coincides with a science-fiction book published at that time, The Big Ball of Wax, written by Shepherd Mead.


But when you come to our country school exhibit, we have the whole ball of wax. (The Wahpeton Daily News)

It says: I can see, even if you can’t, how the whole ball of wax — politics, economics, religion — is rigged in favor of capitalist economic elites, or liberal social elites, or both. (The Topeka Capital-Journal)

The US challenged Russia’s “amateur” status, stating that the athletes in the army were indeed professional, and therefore the rest of the world should be able to field professional sportsmen and women – and the whole ball of wax changed. (The Examiner)

This whole ball of wax will be tacked onto Obama’s legacy and not in a good way. (The Huffington Post)

Art, by contrast, is the whole ball of wax — a system, coherent, chopped out from chaos and held. (The New York Times)

This season will be different because we’ll be going, “Here’s the whole ball of wax and what it all boils down to and what we’d like to see at the very end.” (The Hollywood Reporter)