What does the idiom "The whole nine yards" mean?

The whole nine yards is an idiom used by many writers. When idioms are used in the right place, they open the doors of effective communication and increase your descriptive power. In this way, you will be better understood. The meaning of the expression The whole nine yards is also remarkable in this respect.

Meaning of "The whole nine yards"


The idiom “the whole nine yards” means that one has done something completely and thoroughly, and put in their absolute best effort to get the job done. It relates to the idea that they are “giving it their all” and not leaving anything out. Additionally, the phrase can also be used to describe someone who has gone above and beyond what the task at hand requires, in terms of effort and enthusiasm.


The exact origin of this phrase is unknown; however, there are a few theories as to where it originated. One of the most widely accepted theories is that it dates back to World War II, when fighter pilots were given fabric to cover the nine yards of the wingspan of their aircraft. In this scenario, to “give it the whole nine yards” would mean to cover the entire wingspan from end to end. Another theory suggests that the phrase originated from a Scottish proverb, “the whole nyne yerdes,” which means having all the sewing supplies you need to make a garment.


The phrase “the whole nine yards” is most commonly used to express admiration for someone who gave their best effort and completed a task in its entirety. It is often used as an expression of praise or approval for a job well done. Additionally, it can be used to describe someone who is a go-getter or a “troublemaker,” as they tend to go above and beyond the standard expectations. In less positive contexts, it can be used to describe someone who is overeager and has taken their task too far. It can also be used sarcastically to indicate that something has been overdone or out of proportion.

Example Sentences

  • He gave it the whole nine yards and all his hard work paid off in the end.
  • I admire her for giving the whole nine yards to her project.
  • He's always giving it the whole nine yards, even when it's not necessary.

The meanings of the words in the "The whole nine yards" idiom

Idioms have a common language

"The early bird catches the worm" is an English idiom that means that those who wake up early and start their day early are more likely to succeed. A similar idiom in Spanish is "El que madruga, Dios le ayuda," which translates to "God helps those who rise early." This idiom emphasizes the importance of starting the day early in order to achieve success.


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