09-25-2007, 12:06 PM
Why is a touchdown and extra point worth 7 points? Why not 10 points or 9 points? Who came up with 7?
09-25-2007, 12:17 PM
And why is the phrase "Going the whole nine yards" ? When you need 10 yards for a first down?
Clear as mud. I added bold to a couple explanations I've never heard before.
"The whole nine yards
Dan'l Danehy-Oakes: HELP! I've been trying for a couple of years now to find the origin of the phrase '[to go] the whole nine yards,' with no success to speak of. I would expect it to relate to some sport, but can't find one in which going nine yards has any particular significance. (If it'd been ten yards, I could blame it on American-rules football and put it out of my mind!) Any savants with a clue out there?
Terry O'Connor: Herewith one answer, taken from the alt.english.usage FAQ file maintained by Mark Israel:
This phrase, meaning "all of it, everything", dates from at least the 1950s. The origin is a matter for speculation. 9 yards is not a particularly significant distance either in football or in the garment business (a man's three-piece suit requires about 7 square yards of cloth, and cloth is sold in bolts of 20 to 25 yards). The phrase may refer to the capacity of ready-mix concrete trucks, alleged to average about 9 cubic yards. Some people (e.g., James Kilpatrick in Fine Print: Reflections on the Writing Art) have satisfied themselves that the concrete-trucks explanation is the correct one; but I haven't seen the evidence. And Matthew Jetmore has unearthed some evidence to the contrary, a passage from the August 1964 issue of Ready Mixed Concrete Magazine: "The trend toward larger truck mixer units is probably one of the strongest and most persistent trends in the industry. Whereas, just a few years ago, the 4 1/2 cubic yard mixer was definitely the standard of the industry, the average nationwide mixer size by 1962 had increased to 6.24 cubic yards, with still no end in sight to the demand for increased payload." The phrase is covered by Cecil Adams in More of the Straight Dope, pp. 252-257. A "canonical collection" of explanations has been compiled by "Snopes" (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Ed Dienes: To my understanding, "the whole nine yards" and "dressed to the nines" means much the same thing. In the old days, and I mean "old" days, it took nine yards of cloth or material to make a proper outfit for a gentleman. (And see Dressed to the Nines, below)
Peter Spierings: While in Western Queensland in the early 1950's I heard the use of "the whole nine yards" on several occasions. In those days, cement trucks were not, as yet, in use so we can give that explanation a miss. Michael Nunamaker's version seems quite plausible to me.
Frank Pierce: I know it authoritatively, having served in the military. I first heard it during the Korean War from Navy pilots who flew F6F Hellcats in the Pacific Theater. The standard ammo belt for the fixed fifty-caliber machine guns used on fighter aircraft were, when loaded, 27 feet in length, or of course, nine yards. When you met a Jap at 10,000 feet and really spashed him, you gave him the "whole nine yards" of belt ammo. It was common bragging.
Alex: I've always thought the nautical version was the most likely. A ship rigged vessel has three masts (fore, main and mizzen), and each mast has 3 yards (the horizontal poles that the sails are attached to. A ship with sails rigged from all nine yards would be a rare (and glorious) sight.
Josh: This most be one of the most debated phrase origins around. I have come across several discussion groups and have heard at least a half dozen explanations, some not covered here yet (although I could not access all entries) . . .
One explanation I have heard is that prison walls were set 9 yards apart (inner to outer wall) and that going the whole nine yards, meant escaping from prison. Another explanation was that in a formal wedding the bride wore a veil nine yards long, so those subscribing to this theory claim that the whole nine years, meant the bride was going for a full formal wedding. Check out footage of the Princess Di wedding and you can see what they mean. Bottom line, from what I have read, no one can conclusively substantiante the origin of the phrase.
Terry O'Connor: So all we can agree on is the fact that no one can agree. The origin remains in obscurity and will almost certainly stay there.
Now, to end the discussion for ever (on Word for Word anyway), an extremely hopeful post lodged a couple of years ago by a company claiming commercial rights to the phrase:
RWJA, INC.: It's discriptive headline copy appearing in our forthcoming 1997 copyrighted ad appearing in "Wild Sheep" magazine telling of our extensive service. The Whole Nine Yards is a pending trade mark of RWJA, Inc. Hawley, PA 18428 U.S.A"
Another one points back to football.
"From the "Word Origins" site: a concurring entry
One final possibility is that it does derive from American football, but was originally intended to be ironic. To go "the whole nine yards" was to fall just short of the goal.
(extract from Dave Wilton's Word Origins site )"