the whole nine yards


1 [yahrd]
a common unit of linear measure in English-speaking countries, equal to 3 feet or 36 inches, and equivalent to 0.9144 meter.
Nautical. a long spar, supported more or less at its center, to which the head of a square sail, lateen sail, or lugsail is bent.
Informal. a large quantity or extent.
Slang. one hundred or, usually, one thousand dollars.
the whole nine yards, Informal.
everything that is pertinent, appropriate, or available.
in all ways; in every respect; all the way: If you want to run for mayor, I'll be with you the whole nine yards.

before 900; Middle English yerd(e), Old English (Anglian) gerd orig., straight twig; cognate with Dutch gard, German Gerte rod Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
yard1 (jɑːd)
1.  yd a unit of length equal to 3 feet and defined in 1963 as exactly 0.9144 metre
2.  a cylindrical wooden or hollow metal spar, tapered at the ends, slung from a mast of a square-rigged or lateen-rigged vessel and used for suspending a sail
3.  short for yardstick
4.  informal (Austral) put in the hard yards to make a great effort to achieve an end
5.  informal the whole nine yards everything that is required; the whole thing
[Old English gierd rod, twig; related to Old Frisian jerde, Old Saxon gerdia, Old High German gertia, Old Norse gaddr]

yard2 (jɑːd)
1.  a piece of enclosed ground, usually either paved or laid with concrete and often adjoining or surrounded by a building or buildings
2.  a.  an enclosed or open area used for some commercial activity, for storage, etc: a railway yard
 b.  (in combination): a brickyard; a shipyard
3.  a US and Canadian word for garden
4.  an area having a network of railway tracks and sidings, used for storing rolling stock, making up trains, etc
5.  (US), (Canadian) the winter pasture of deer, moose, and similar animals
6.  (Austral), (NZ) an enclosed area used to draw off part of a herd, etc
7.  (NZ) saleyard short for stockyard
8.  to draft (animals), esp to a saleyard
[Old English geard; related to Old Saxon gard, Old High German gart, Old Norse garthr yard, Gothic gards house, Old Slavonic gradu town, castle, Albanian garth hedge]

Yard (jɑːd)
informal (Brit) the Yard short for Scotland Yard

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

"ground around a house," O.E. geard "enclosure, garden, court, house, yard," from P.Gmc. *garda (cf. O.N. garðr "enclosure, garden, yard;" O.Fris. garda, Du. gaard, O.H.G. garto, Ger. Garten "garden;" Goth. gards "house," garda "stall"), from PIE *gharto-, from base *gher- "to grasp, enclose" (cf.
O.E. gyrdan "to gird," Skt. ghra- "house," Alb. garth "hedge," L. hortus "garden," Phrygian -gordum "town," Gk. khortos "pasture," O.Ir. gort "field," Bret. garz "enclosure, garden," and second element in L. cohors "enclosure, yard, company of soldiers, multitude"). Lith. gardas "pen, enclosure," O.C.S. gradu "town, city," and Rus. gorod, -grad "town, city" belong to this group, but linguists dispute whether they are independent developments or borrowings from Gmc. Yard sale is attested by 1976. M.E. yerd "yard-land" (mid-15c.) was a measure of about 30 acres. Yardbird "convict" is 1956, from the notion of prison yards; earlier it meant "basic trainee" (World War II armed forces slang).

"measure of length," O.E. gerd (Mercian), gierd (W.Saxon) "rod, stick, measure of length," from W.Gmc. *gazdijo, from P.Gmc. *gazdaz "stick, rod" (cf. O.S. gerda, O.Fris. ierde, Du. gard "rod;" O.H.G. garta, Ger. gerte "switch, twig," O.N. gaddr "spike, sting, nail"), from PIE *gherdh- "staff, pole"
(cf. L. hasta "shaft, staff"). In O.E. it was originally a land measure of roughly 5 meters (a length later called rod, pole or perch). Modern measure of "three feet" is attested from late 14c. (earlier rough equivalent was the ell of 45 inches, and the verge). In M.E., the word also was a euphemism for "penis" (cf. "Love's Labour's Lost," V.ii.676). Slang meaning "one hundred dollars" first attested 1926, Amer.Eng. Yardstick is 1816. The nautical yard-arm (1550s) retains the original sense of "stick." In 19c. British naval custom, it was permissible to begin drinking when the sun was over the yard-arm.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
yard   (yärd)  Pronunciation Key 
A unit of length in the US Customary System equal to 3 feet or 36 inches (0.91 meter). See Table at measurement.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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