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whole ball of wax, the

Slang definitions & phrases for whole ball of wax, the

whole ball of wax, the

noun phrase

The totality; everything; the whole thing; the WHOLE SHEBANG: For that price you get the whole ball of wax

[1950s+; origin unknown; perhaps fr a manner of distributing the land of an estate to heirs, described in the early 1600s, in which the amount of each portion is concealed in a ball of wax that is drawn out of a hat in a sort of lottery. If so, the term went unrecorded for a very long time]


The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with whole ball of wax, the

whole ball of wax, the

Also,
the whole enchilada or shooting match or shebang
. Everything, all the elements, the entire affair. For example,
The union demanded higher wages, a pension plan, job security—the whole ball of wax
, or
The contract includes paperback rights, film rights, electronic media—the whole enchilada
, or
She lost her job, her pension, her health-care coverage, the whole shooting match
. Not all the allusions in these slangy terms are clear.
Ball of wax
may refer to a 17th-century English legal practice whereby land was divided among heirs by covering scraps of paper representing portions of land with wax, rolling each into a ball, and drawing the balls from a hat. An
enchilada
combines several foods inside a tortilla; a
shooting match
denotes a shooting competition; and a
shebang
is a rude hut or shelter. The first two of these slangy terms date from the second half of the 1900s, the last two from the late 1800s. For synonyms, see
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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