It’s funny how much we use common expressions without really thinking about them. For example, is it: “toe the line” or “tow the line”? (Answer here.)
I was reminded of this by something I was writing today. I was going to use the expression “the whole nine yards”. But I wondered where the expression came from, so I looked it up on Wikipedia:
“The origin of the phrase is not definitively known, although a vast number of explanations with varying degrees of plausibility have been suggested. Perhaps the most frequently quoted is from World War II, where to “go the full nine yards” was to fire the entire aircraft’s machine-gun ammunition belt at the enemy, which is nine yards long.”
So, having seen this, I opted not to use the expression in what I was writing at the time, which was:
“Peace on Earth, Goodwill to Man–the whole nine yards.”
I think it might have undercut my point in that instance.