The Whole (Full) Nine Yards (Origin)

by Craig Shrives

What Is the Origin of the Saying "The Whole (Full) Nine Yards"?

The ammunition belt for the Supermarine Spitfire was nine yards in length. Therefore, a pilot who stated that he had given the enemy aircraft the whole nine yards was claiming that he had fired every single round at his adversary. Going the whole/full nine yards came to mean doing as much as possible.

Competing Theory

Some claim that the term "the whole nine yards" predates the Supermarine Spitfire. According to them, the term probably refers to the amount of cloth needed to make a traditional kilt.

Of note, we could find no evidence that "the whole/full nine yards" was in regular use before the 1940s. [evidence]
The Whole Nine Yards (Origin)

Examples of Use:

  • This party is incredible. You've really gone the whole nine yards.
  • We'll have to go the full nine yards to win this competition.
  • I know my husband will go the whole nine yards if he approaches Terry about that comment.

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See Also

What are idioms? What is figurative language? A list of common grammar errors A list of easily confused words A list of sayings and proverbs