Urban planning community

+ Reply to thread
Page 2 of 2 FirstFirst 1 2
Results 26 to 27 of 27

Thread: Common Phrases We Collectively Understand and Take for Granted

  1. #26
    Gunfighter Mastiff's avatar
    Registered
    Oct 2001
    Location
    Middle of a Dusty Street
    Posts
    6,379
    Quote Originally posted by jsk1983
    "pardon my French"
    meaning excuse me for swearing. Why French? Why not pardon my Dutch?
    The French are easy to make fun of?
    -----------------------------------------------------------------
    C'mon and get me you twist of fate
    I'm standing right here Mr. Destiny
    If you want to talk well then I'll relate
    If you don't so what cause you don't scare me

  2. #27
    Gunfighter Mastiff's avatar
    Registered
    Oct 2001
    Location
    Middle of a Dusty Street
    Posts
    6,379
    Quote Originally posted by mgk920
    Nope, comes from military combat, as in having a fighter pilot use his entire supply of automatic weapons ammo (they were in belts that were about 9 yards long). 'He shot the whole nine yards'.
    One of us could be right... or neither of us!

    http://www.yaelf.com/nineyards.shtml

    From the Usenet archives: commentary on the origin of "the whole nine yards":

    I'll go over some of the more common suggestions, but first let's consider some important background material. The phrase is first found, to my knowledge, in 1966. (An unreliable book has claimed that it dates from the 1950s, which is itself not that implausible.) The early examples do not seem to be associated with a particular field; for example, it is found in military sources, but it doesn't seem to be a specifically military expression. The phrase is an Americanism.

    A reasonable etymological theory must meet several criteria. It must be internally true--you cannot claim that the whole nine yards comes from the fact that a man's three-piece suit require nine square yards of cloth if such a suit only requires five square yards. It must jibe with the evidence we have--an origin in some colonial practice is not likely to be the origin of a term first found in the 1960s. It must be sociolinguistically plausible--an origin in the jargon of cement-truck operators is unlikely because there's no reasonable way that cement- truck-operator jargon would make it to general use. There are other criteria, but these are rough guidelines of what we can demand from an explanation. With that in mind, let's look at what some people have said.

    Despite the use of yards as the standard measurement of distance in football, nine yards is not a significant distance in the game. No one has ever discovered a quote from, say, a movie about football or from a famous football player about "going the whole nine yards" in reference to a particularly important play.

    It is asserted that a standard capacity of cement-mixers is nine cubic yards, and that a full load would be "the whole nine yards." There is no standard capacity for cement mixers--current models vary between seven and ten cubic yards--but in the 1960s, when the phrase was first used, they carried about four cubic yards of cement, and six cubic yards was considered extremely large. Also, it's unlikely that a phrase from cement-mixing jargon would make it into the mainstream.

    It is asserted that various articles of clothing, such as a man's custom-made three-piece suit, a formal bridal veil or train, or a gown in colonial times, customarily require nine square yards of material, or that material normally comes in bolts of nine square yards. In fact, a man's custom-made suit requires only about four to five square yards of cloth; even the late Princess of Wales' staggeringly long veil was only twenty-five feet (8 1/3 yards) long, and colonial gowns are too old to bother considering. Bolts of cloth are normally twenty or more yards long. Finally, the garment industry is again not a likely source of slang.

    It is asserted that the "yard" is not a reference to length, but is rather one of the long spars to which a sail is affixed on a ship; ships had a maximum of nine of these yards, and a ship trying to go as fast as possible with all its sails would be using "the whole nine yards." First of all, ships often had more than nine yards; it depended on the number of masts, but fifteen or eighteen yards were not unusual. Second, seafaring terminology is an unlikely origin for a term only thirty-odd years old. Third, the phrase "all nine yards" would be more likely in this context than "the whole nine yards."

    It is asserted that nine yards is a customary length of a burial shroud, and "the whole nine yards" would refer to death, and by extention any extreme, final limit. This suggestion has at least some basis--nine yards is a customary length of burial shrouds in some areas. However, the semantic link doesn't seem likely--it's more of a stretch from "death" to "everything possible" than one would like. The word "whole" again doesn't make much sense in this context. Also, the actual phrase "the whole nine yards" has never been found in conjunction with burial practices.

    A more recent assertion is that twenty-seven feet was the standard length of a machine-gun belt, and that firing off the entire round was shooting "the whole nine yards." This is sensible in a number of ways- -the military is often a source for expressions of this type; it makes perfect semantic sense; the phrasing is reasonable. Most machine-gun belts were less than twenty-seven feet, unfortunately, and of course this phrase is not found specifically associated with this theory until very recently.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------
    C'mon and get me you twist of fate
    I'm standing right here Mr. Destiny
    If you want to talk well then I'll relate
    If you don't so what cause you don't scare me

+ Reply to thread
Page 2 of 2 FirstFirst 1 2

More at Cyburbia

  1. Analysis of job growth vs. degrees granted
    Career Development and Advice
    Replies: 72
    Last post: 20 Jul 2012, 12:23 AM
  2. Coded phrases
    Friday Afternoon Club
    Replies: 20
    Last post: 21 Nov 2011, 7:06 PM
  3. Old fart phrases
    Friday Afternoon Club
    Replies: 27
    Last post: 19 Jul 2010, 9:00 AM
  4. How common is common sense?
    Friday Afternoon Club
    Replies: 19
    Last post: 20 Jan 2007, 2:49 PM
  5. Replies: 8
    Last post: 12 Dec 2006, 9:03 AM