Geoff Nunberg

Geoff Nunberg is the linguist contributor on NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross.

He teaches at the School of Information at the University of California at Berkeley and is the author of The Way We Talk Now, Going Nucular, Talking Right and The Years of Talking Dangerously. His most recent book is Ascent of the A-Word. His website is www.geoffreynunberg.com.

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11:47 am
Mon January 14, 2013

'The Whole Nine Yards' Of What?

There are those who say the phrase "the whole nine yards" comes from a joke about a prodigiously well-endowed Scotsman who gets his kilt caught in a door.
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Originally published on Mon January 14, 2013 2:25 pm

Where does the phrase "the whole nine yards" come from? In 1982, William Safire called that "one of the great etymological mysteries of our time."

He thought the phrase originally referred to the capacity of a cement truck in cubic yards. But there are plenty of other theories.

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