Concept

The whole nine yards

Summary
"The whole nine yards" or "the full nine yards" is a colloquial American English phrase meaning "everything, the whole lot" or, when used as an adjective, "all the way", as in, "The Army came out and gave us the whole nine yards on how they use space systems." Its origin is unknown and has been described by Yale University librarian Fred R. Shapiro as "the most prominent etymological riddle of our time". The Oxford English Dictionary finds the earliest published non-idiomatic use in an 1855 Indiana newspaper article. The earliest known idiomatic use of the phrase is from 1907 in Southern Indiana. The phrase is related to the expression the whole six yards, used around the same time in Kentucky and South Carolina. Both phrases are variations on the whole ball of wax, first recorded in the 1880s. They are part of a family of expressions in which an odd-sounding item, such as enchilada, shooting match, shebang or hog, is substituted for ball of wax.
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