Shopping Cart

Running Down the Mysterious Origins of 'The Whole Nine Yards'

Posted on

These campers are ready to hit the whole nine yards on their day hike!

Hey, Camp Folks!

Anticipation hung heavy in the air as the camping troop stood there, attentively taking direction from their cabin leader before heading out on an afternoon hike. The leader informed them of their route from the lake to the deep woods all the way out to the waterfalls and back.

“We’ll be covering the whole nine yards!” he told them.

When people use the phrase ‘The whole nine yards,’ they’re trying to convey the idea of completeness or thoroughness in a particular situation. But which nine yards are we talking about here and why do they represent such completeness? Well, nobody actually knows, but that hasn’t stopped people from guessing…

Three Notions Behind the Nine Yards

While its origins remain a mystery, this phrase has sparked several theories that attempt to explain its unknown history. Check ‘em out:

A Blog post that's sure to measure up.

Yards of Scottish Apparel

One idea suggests it’s in reference to the amount of cloth needed to fashion a Scottish kilt. This theory is easy to debunk, however, as kilts have never required nearly that much material.

Layin’ it Down

Others have theorized it refers to the contents of a cement mixer, suggesting that a full load equated to ‘the whole nine yards’. Historical records from the 1950s, however, reveal that cement trucks didn't carry such quantities.

Belt it Out for Yards and Yards

Our last theory ties the phrase to the length of machine gun ammunition belts in World War II aircraft. These belts, when stretched out on the ground, measure approximately 27 feet. So, if a pilot fired all his ammo, he was said to have given "the whole nine yards."


Despite various theories attempting to explain its meaning, none have provided definitive evidence to support their claims. This phrase serves as a reminder of the complexities and nuances embedded within our everyday language! Thanks for reading, Camp Folks! And, as always, Happy Camping!


- John

Posted in Adage Origin


Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published