whole nine yards, the

Idioms & Phrases

whole nine yards, the

Everything that is relevant; the whole thing. For example, He decided to take everything to collegehis books, his stereo, his computer, his skis, the whole nine yards. The source of this expression is not known, but there are several possibilities: the amount of cloth required to make a complete suit of clothes; the fully set sails of a three-masted ship where each mast carries three yards, that is, spars, to support the sails; or the amount of cement (in cubic yards) contained in a cement mixer for a big construction job. [Colloquial]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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