- (idiomatic) All the way; with everything done completely or thoroughly.
- (idiomatic) (And) everything; often used, like etc., to finish out a list.
The origin is unknown, but many theories exist. The earliest known print appearance in these senses is in an article by Stephen Trumbell in the 1964-04-25 Tuscon Daily Citizen, titled “Talking Hip in the Space Age” and discussing NASA jargon: “‘Give ’em the whole nine yards’ means an item-by-item report on any project.” The synonymous variant “all nine yards” appeared in a letter from Gale F. Linster to the editor of the 1962-12 Car Life. An earlier variant, “whole six yards”, is attested from 1912, which appears to invalidate various theories that attach specific import to the nine yards (such as a theory connecting it to the length of machine gun ammunition belts on World War II B-17 bombers, and one connecting it to the amount of concrete that a concrete mixer can hold), as well as theories that postulate a World War II origin.