Question: Where does the phrase, The Whole Nine Yards originate from?
Answer: This particular phrase is generally used today to mean give it everything you’ve got or something close to that.
Exactly where the commonly used phrase, The Whole Nine Yards comes from though is open to much debate.
One of the most popular theories is the phrase referred to the length of Word War Two fighter planes ammo belts.
During the war in the Pacific against the Japanese Empire, American fighter pilots would have machine gun ammo belts that measured exactly 9 yards. If a pilot used all his ammo on a target they were said to give it the whole nine yards.
This explanation of the meaning seems to make perfect sense until you learn that the earliest known written account of the saying wasn’t until 1962 (17 years after the end of the war). The phrase features in a short story written by Robert E Wegner called Man On The Thresh-Hold. So in terms of solid evidence this text appears the most credible source.
As with many other phrases, the origin may become lost over time while a newer, alternate origin becomes attached to it. Amidst the lack of definitive evidence, individuals will have to make up their own minds on the origin and which seems most plausible to them.
Had there been written records of the phrase around the time of WWII though, there would surely be little argument. Though without any earlier written accounts it does seem far less credible.