The whole 9 yards is an American colloquial expression, meaning “the whole thing” as a phrase, or “all the way” as an expression.
In other words, the expression is used to refer to everything you could wish for, do, or accomplish.
The expression’s origin is currently unknown and is debated by the linguist community.
Yale University’s former librarian Fred R. Shapiro once described the whole 9 yards as “the most prominent etymological riddle of our time”.
The colloquial term first appeared in print in 1855 in the 4th Volume of a magazine titled “Yankee Notions”.
The term gained popularity and started to spread widely in everyday spoken language during the 1980s and 1990s in the U.S.
The Whole 9 Yards even became the title of a relatively popular crime-comedy movie which featured actors Bruce Willis and Matthew Perry, released in the year 2000.
- Guardian.co.uk – Where does the expression ”the whole nine yards” come from?
- Mentalfloss.com – The Mysterious Origins of the Phrase ‘The Whole Nine Yards’