nine

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by mathman, Nov 14, 2021.

1. mathmanValued Senior Member

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Nine appears in expressions 'the whole nine yards' and 'dressed to the nines'. Why 'nine'? Are there other such expressions?

3. DaveC426913Valued Senior Member

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This one has a contentious origin. An oft referenced one is that machine guns in WWII fighters has bullet chains that were 27 feet long long and to open up on an enemy was to "give him the hole nine yards".

Certainly.
Challenge: find an expression for every integer. How many can you get?

Third time's a charm.
Six sheets to the wind.
Seventh Heaven.
Dime-a-dozen.

5. exchemistValued Senior Member

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Two's company.
I'll give it five.
He's one over the eight
Nineteen to the dozen
Er......someone else have a go.......

7. DaveC426913Valued Senior Member

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You can't just make them up!

She went "all elevens".
You just need "a fourteen".
"A seventeen in the bonnet".

See?

8. sculptorValued Senior Member

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Number 9 is an amazing number; if the number 9 is multiplied by any number of single-digit, after adding together the two digits of the product always get 9. For example: 9x3 = 27 = 2 + 7 = 9; 9x9 = 81 = 8 + 1 = 9; 9x5 = 45 = 4 + 5 = 9 and so forth.

..........................

9. Beer w/StrawTranscendental Ignorance!Valued Senior Member

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Four!

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10. exchemistValued Senior Member

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There is a world outside Canuckistan, you know.

Look 'em up. They do exist.

11. foghornValued Senior Member

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A right two and eight.
Old Cockney rhyming slang for getting into a state.

Sixes and sevens.
A state of confusion or mess.

12. billvonValued Senior Member

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Fourth Wall
Four Letter Words
Four Corners of the Earth

13. exchemistValued Senior Member

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??

Or do you mean, as in:-

Normally that's spelt "Phwoarr!"

(Gabrielle Drake, in UFO, circa 1970).

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14. DywyddyrPenguinaciously duckalicious.Valued Senior Member

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This isn't the case.
Even ignoring the links AND the cartridge diameter, it's easy to disprove.
50 cal ammunition = 1/2" diameter - that's 24 per foot. 9 yards of ammo would be 648 rounds.
The P47 had 4 guns with 300 rounds per gun (rpg) = nearly twice that value.
P51 had 500 rpg for the inner guns and 270 rpg for the four outer guns = 2080 rounds.
Spits had ~350 rpg for the 8 (smaller calibre) guns = 2800 rounds at 0.303" bullet diameter = 23.5 yards excluding cartridge cases and links.

15. DaveC426913Valued Senior Member

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Yup. I said the origin is contentious. I've heard other explanations too (a nine yard bolt of cloth) but, as I said, the jury's out.

Still, I think your dismissal is a bit hasty. We don't really know what guns - never mind what machine they were attached to - may have started the saying. And it may just as easily be my fault for misremembering. For example, someone elseweb has suggested a Gatling gun. I'm not sure how you can be sure unless you've ruled out all likely culprits.

Last edited: Nov 15, 2021
16. gmilamValued Senior Member

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So we should probably 86 that explanation.

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17. DaveC426913Valued Senior Member

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Or at least those three specific examples...

18. SarkusHippomonstrosesquippedalo phobeValued Senior Member

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The phrase predates WW2, so you can absolutely rule out anything that claims the origin to be from WW2 or after.

Heck, it seems to predate WW1 as well.

Reference to the length of cloth seems quite plausible (putting "the whole nine yards" into one garment, meaning to put everything into it) but, as you say, there's no consensus. There are also variations, most notably "the whole six yards" but unfortunately that may not help identify the actual origin any easier. It may suggest that it is somehow linked to "dressed to the nines", though?

19. DaveC426913Valued Senior Member

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OK, that meets my criteria for conclusive.

20. mathmanValued Senior Member

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'Whole nine yards' and 'dressed to the nines' being connected sounds plausible.

21. Beer w/StrawTranscendental Ignorance!Valued Senior Member

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I was thinking of the sounds in golf, not the spelling

Believe you me! I screw up sometimes.

22. exchemistValued Senior Member

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Oh I see. Apologies. Sex is occasionally a theme in your posts and I jumped to the wrong conclusion!

I think golfers shout "Fore!" before they brain you with a golf ball at 150mph.

23. Michael 345New year. PRESENT is 72 years oldlValued Senior Member

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Isn't the spelling FORE?