Whole nine yards

Grammarist

The idiom whole nine yards speaks to the extent of someone’s effort. If you go the whole nine yards, you thought of everything, you used every resource, you looked into every possibility. Or if it is used as mass noun to describe a group, that group includes everything possible. See the examples below for more clarity on this idiom’s use.

The idiom originated in the United States some time in the first half of the twentieth century. There is no evidence, however, to know what nine years the phrase is referring to. A popular theory is that it takes nine yards to make a Scottish kilt. However, while the length fits, there is little to say that it would turn into a phrase which means to its fullest extent. Other theories about cement mixers and ammunition belts are false.

Examples

In an era when people don’t have the time or the patience to wade through the sea of traffic to go to the mall to buy clothes and instead prefer shopping at the click of a button in the comfort of their homes, there is one septuagenarian in the city who goes the whole nine yards — from spinning her own yarn on the charkha to making her own clothes. [The Times of India]

“I got myself fully prepared, made myself up to look like Coretta with pearls on and the right shade of lipstick,” she recalls. “I went the whole nine yards.” [LA Times]

This year, murders, deaths, fires, drought, thefts, vandalism – the whole nine yards – have been splashed across our front pages; however, so have births, unions, stories of resilience, monies going to great causes and lots of other good news. [Victoria Advocate]

Thousands of people turned up on the streets with bricks, paving stones, pick axe handles, the whole nine yards and were intent on doing some serious damage to our crew. [Express]

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