The Whole 9 yards

It's fun every so often to wonder how a particular phrase came to be, or why we use certain sayings. Take "The Whole Nine Yards," for instance. Does it mean yards of material? Yards, like back yards or front yards? Does it have anything to do with math, as in three feet equals one yard? The truth of the matter is ...

During WWII, U.S. airplanes were armed with belts of bullets which they would shoot during dogfights and on strafing runs. These belts were folded into the wing compartments that fed their machine guns. These belts measure 27 feet and contained hundreds of rounds of bullets. Often times, the pilots would return from their missions having expended all of their bullets on various targets. They would say, “I gave them the whole nine yards,” meaning they used up all of their ammunition.


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