Friday, March 18, 2016

Origin of Phrases, 5

1.   The whole nine yards: American fighter planes in WW2 had machine guns that were fed by a belt of cartridges. The average plane held belts that were 27 feet (9 yards) long. If the pilot used up all his ammo he was said to have given it the whole nine yards. 

2.   Buying the farm: This is synonymous with dying. During WW1 soldiers were given life insurance policies worth $5,000. This was about the price of an average farm so if you died you ‘bought the farm’ for your survivors. 

3.   Passing the Buck / the buck stops here: Most men in the early west carried a jack knife made by the Buck knife company. When playing poker it was common to place one of these Buck knives in front of the dealer so that everyone knew who he was. When it was time for a new dealer the deck of cards and the knife were given to the new dealer. If this person didn't want to deal he would ‘pass the buck’ to the next player. If that player accepted then ‘the buck stopped there.’

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