THE MYTH.... THE WHOLE NINE YARDS....... The phrase “give ‘em the whole nine yards” is a reference to the end to end length of a belt of machine gun ammunition used in WWII fighter planes. THE REALITY: While that was the accepted origin of the phrase “the whole nine yards” for quite some time, this explanation has a number of problems. The first is that it actually originates from well before WWII, being used in a newspaper blurb from 1907 that described the length of a baseball game. It’s been used in a variety of contexts for decades, sometimes as “the whole six yards,” and was said to be the length of a long-jump, the size of a NASA report, a length of fishing wire, the amount of concrete a mixer can hold, a bolt of fabric rolled end to end or the outfitting of “goodies” on a car. There’s absolutely no consensus on what “the whole nine yards” was meant to represent, or who first coined it. Beyond that, machine gun ammunition wasn’t measured in length, but in number of bullets. Moreover, the 50 caliber machine gun that was standard on US planes used 100 round or 500 round belts, with each round about an inch long – neither of which comes out to nine yards. This is just one of those phrases that people started using, and kept using, deciding what it meant as they went along.