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9 yards

9 yards

I read in an earlier thread the expression "the whole nine yards" I have heard it before and understand that means "everything" but where does it come from? Are there any other similar expressions?


RE: 9 yards

Actually, none of those are correct.  It comes from WWII fighter pilots.  The typical length of ammunition in a WWII fighter waw 9 yards.

When fighting, the pilots could only shoot at the enemy in very short bursts.  This was for 2 reasons: 1) you weren't on the enemy's tail long enough to shoot for longer and 2) firing slowed your plane down so much that you were at risk of getting shot.

So, when a pilot was tailing a enemy so well he could hold down the trigger and empty his magazine... giving him the whole nine yards.  The phrase started from the debriefing conversations that the pilots had, something along the lines of "Man, you were on him so good you could have given him the whole nine yards."  This phrase didn't necessarily mean that the pilot used up his ammunition on one enemy plane, but had the opportunity if he was so inclined.


For some pleasure reading, try FAQ731-376

RE: 9 yards

They may be more explanations for this phrase over any other, some of them quite amusing.  However, there has yet to be found a definitive answer.

It is worth reading The Whole Nine Yards for all the suggestions as to the origin of this phrase.

RE: 9 yards


 We were told by our 7th grade teacher, a WWII vet, that you really couldn't give them the "whole nine yards" at once because the heat created would warp the gun barrel.

RE: 9 yards

You can in a airplane, especially if your at 20,000 ft, it's 40 below outside and there a 300 mph wind over the gun.

RE: 9 yards

That's only at the tip of the barrel, the chamber is still hot.


RE: 9 yards

Especially considering the gun barrel was embedded within the wing (at least on P-51s and F-4Us).

Bring back the HP-15

RE: 9 yards

The story I've heard of the origins of "the whole nine yards" pre-dates any of the 20th Century references above, although no one argues that the expression's origins still remain in question.

The belted plaid, worn by Scots in earlier centuries, which predates the kilt as we know it today, uses nine yards of woolen plaid fabric.  It is partially hand-pleated, the pleated part being fixed around the waist of the Scot with a wide belt, and the remainder of the yardage is slung up behind the back, over the shoulder, and tucked into the belt in front.  At night or in foul weather, the Scot needs only to untuck the excess fabric from his belt and create a blanket, hood, or cloak by wrapping himself up in it.  There is no sewing or stitching involved in the belted plaid.

I've seen a Scot prepare and garb himself in a belted plaid, and it's an impressive task (taking some practice to learn how much of the fabric to pleat), but quite practical once donned.

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