Dressed to the Nines

Wouldn’t you want to be dressed to the tens, and not the nines?

HotForWords investigates the origin of Dressed to the Nines.

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227 Responses to Dressed to the Nines

  1. Steve says:

    I just found out about you today. I think that “dressed to the nines” means that a woman is showing a lot of cleavage, thereby making a big show of herself.

  2. Steve says:

    Dear Marina,

    I just saw you for the first time today. I think that “dressed to the nines” is a polite way of saying that a woman is dressed to reveal a lot of cleavage.

  3. hott4urblog says:

    On a scale from One to Nine You are still a Ten… Even on da Budweiser Scale. Numerology has always been an Ancient Science even Cultish wrapped in Mythology, Religion, and Politics. Nine stood for the Height of Intellectual and Spiritual Achievement maybe this is an inference to being Dressed for Success! You are a Goddess!

  4. Greatest Potential says:

    Well, there is the nine inch high heels theory of mine

    gown dress material rests just above the shiny high heel sparklers, elegantly allowing fullness to the overall apppearance. Thusly, dressed to the nines, a pair of fine pumps

  5. Greatest Potential says:

    This word mystery has not been solved yet!

  6. wojo says:

    The phrase, “Dressed to the Nines!” comes from biblical scholars interpreting the number 9 as representing Spiritual Completeness.

    Hence a bride on her wedding day, the day of “holy matrimony” is dressed to the Nines!

  7. aqualee64 says:

    Hi Marina. You asked for the to the nines, well if 666 represents the Devil, then 999 must represent God. I thank you for all you do on this site and appreciate what you do. Your student, Lee

  8. oro says:

    I’ve heard that the expression “Whole 9 yards” was related to the length of belts of .50 caliber ammo, pilots on F4U corsairs would say that to indicate that they were out of bullets.

  9. hs4mm says:

    Wanting to comment on a particular dress, I looked for a lesson on dress but did not spot this lesson and ended up making the comment in the lesson on “female”: http://www.hotforwords.com/2007/08/17/female-vs-male/comment-page-1/#comment-120407

  10. zirc says:

    another example of nine being the highest or most extreme level was in the circles of hell, the ninth circle was reserved for the most egregious sinners, perhaps in order to go to the devil’s ball…

  11. kinsa says:

    I’d say the muses explanation makes the most sense because it would apply to “to the nines” as well. Either way women like you and hotforprofits are always dressed to the nines.

  12. matalexwolf says:

    Prink…..

  13. matalexwolf says:

    bedizen….

  14. arariel says:

    I can’t say for certain where the “dressed to the nines” comes from, but I believe that this may have originated with numerology. The number 3 has always been associated with good, great, even God and godly. And, as quite often happens in our language, if some is good, more must be better. In other words, if three is great, three threes must be perfect. Ergo 3×3 = 9.. dressed to perfection.
    This may also have some root in the magic squares used in ancient numerology where squares were made and filled with numbers for good luck and to make talismans against evil.

  15. arariel says:

    Very nicely done! First, regarding “the whole 9 yards,” as I understand it, the reason ammunition was produced in the 27′ sections was that this is what the ammo boxes at the time could hold. Generally, the shots were to be fired in bursts to conserve ammo, but in times of great need, “the whole 9 yards” would be fired at the enemy, requiring a reload of the gun… very dangerous.

  16. tedt says:

    9 dates, one kiss before he hasn´t been seen again ? :lol: :cool:

  17. silver4441 says:

    in WW2 the mustang fighter plane had 9 yards of bullets in each gun and when you gave a target the whole 9 yards it meant you shot all your bullets at it that is the only one i can think of :wink:

  18. gramps525 says:

    :mrgreen: i think it is the same as the whole nine yards.sence choth was sold this way. ty and your still HOT !!!!!!!!! :lol:

  19. The whole nine yards, (like balls to the wall,) is an aviation term. The air force used to put out ammuntion for their bomber planes in 27 foot segments. (I’m not sure of the word, but bullets were fed into the machine gun lined up side to side in some kind of line.) If you used all of your bullets on one target, you gave it the whole nine yards.

  20. sassanshahi says:

    This is come from Arabic number that’s starts form (0-9). Accourding to the Arabic number the maximum number is “9″. In modern time for perfect number called 10 which is not correct acording to correct math.

  21. harveycasual says:

    Hi Marina,

    “dressed to the nines”

    In mathematics there are only nine numbers 1-9.
    Zero is not a number per se, “before there was a one there was nothing”.

    Given this perspective, nine is the highest number.

    Perhaps, this is where it comes.

    • aLx says:

      Zero is not a number per se

      for platonists it is. ;)

    • lytw84x4 says:

      Zero was an unknown concept until the 1700′s because roman numerals were used and there is no provision for space holding in that system ten is X, fifty is L, the last year of the century C. With the adoption of the Hindu-Arabic system which used a dot for space holding thus tens would have been 1• and fifty 5•, if not done exactly 205 written 2•5 could be read as 2.5, or 2 times 5 a significant error either way to say the least.

  22. politricks5 says:

    *****************************
    *****************************

    Dear Hotforwords,
    Why is regardless and irregardless the same word?

    And why do we give 3 cheers in celebration?
    Hip Hip Hooray
    Hip Hip Hooray
    Hip Hip Hooray

    What’s Hip Hip??

  23. buzzword says:

    naughty number nine WARNING this video includes a graphic depiction of a pussy.

  24. toungetwisted says:

    My wife say that nine is one of the traditional magical numbers because it is three threes. Three has been a powerful number in many traditions (Judaism, numerology, Wicca, Christianity, Chinese traditions). In those traditions, three threes or nine is often even more powerful.

    She’s so smart.

  25. Hitman says:

    I think number nine means the near thing to the perfection, or 10 when the number has another digit, so you can’t be perfect but you can reach a little bit of perfection…

  26. kingridbergman says:

    I know you wanted to know why 9 is important but what about 8. Why do pirates call treasure pieces of 8? Hmm.

    • resol29 says:

      There was a coin in use that could be broken into 8 pieces. This is also where “two bits” comes from. Two bits (pieces) of the coin would be 1/4, aka a quarter.

  27. drunken taz says:

    I’m gonna take a guess and say the 9′s came about from rateing things on a scale of 1-10. 10 being perfect, since people belive only God can be perfect. it wasas close asyou can get

  28. k0ry30 says:

    Hi HFW

    My word request is: “Eye Candy”

    Thanks,
    Kory

  29. skakei says:

    hi, i know you already did ‘hotdog’ but can you do some research on how the term became associated with ‘being a show-off’? thanks

  30. shimmycc says:

    what does the word vagina mean?

  31. yupi-bean says:

    hi! your show is great.

    i’m just wondering what the opening/closing song is, as it is amazing!
    thanks!
    jenn

  32. yoella says:

    I’d like to request you do a lesson on the phoneme ‘ough’. It shows up in English in a number of contexts and in almost all of them it’s pronounced differently. What’s up with that?

    though
    thought/ought/nought
    through/slough
    cough/rough/tough
    hiccough
    clough

  33. rose says:

    Hi.. You are beautiful and your voice is so sultry!!!! OK……these words aren’t spelled exaclty the same but sound the same….HOW ABOUT>>>>>>SEMEN and SEMINARY OK??? One is man’s sperm the other is where men go to learn to preach??? ROSE

  34. surfinri says:

    Dear “Hot For Words”: Since your bio says that you are originally from Russia can you tell us the origin of the word RUSSIA?

  35. surfinri says:

    I’d like to know the origin of the word GOTHIC. I believe it has to do with the area of my famiy’s ancestral origins in southern Sweden, known as Västergötland (land of the western Goths). Historically the Goths left Sweden in the first century AD, migrated south, through what is today Poland and eventually sacked Rome in 476 AD. They later retreated back to their original homeland in Sweden between the two big lakes of Vännern and Vättern.

  36. staircapades says:

    What about the pair of words “saloon” and “salon”
    Are they from similar origin?
    If so, how did the western bar turn into a beauty shop?

  37. deragor says:

    I have no idea of why the nuber nine is that important, but when i studied maths at HS my teacher taught me that… 9.999…(periodic) EQUALS EXACTLY to 10.
    I can’t remember the demonstration, but if there’s anyone out there who can explain it pls reply this comment. I would like to know it once again.
    In the meantime i’ll think of it too, perhaps i can manage reminding it…

    • staircapades says:

      Deragor,

      What you’re thinking of is something called “limits.” 9.9999 does not actually equal exactly 10, but the difference is so miniscule that it is considered 10 anyway. It’s just something used in Calculus a whole term full.
      The number 9 is not that important haha. The same concept can be used from 10.0001, which can be equal to 10. This is how you find the location of a hole in a graph, using the positive and negative side of a number, such as 10. You just take calculations from 9.999 and 10.0001 and the number that they approach is your limit.

      • staircapades says:

        Edit*
        The 9.999 is the negative side of 10 and 10.0001 is the positive side of 10.
        Just to prevent any confusion.

      • deragor says:

        I don’t think so…
        I mean, i wasn’t that bright at maths, but i remember the demonstration had nothing to do with limits.
        I remember that it ended something like this:
        9.99…=10 > 9+0.99…=9+1 > 0.99…=1!!!
        But the problem is that the starting point must be demonstraded too…
        Bah, language is better…

      • staircapades says:

        Yeah what you’re saying does not have anything to do with limits, but it’s with the limit idea that that 9.99 =10

      • staircapades says:

        hmm I just read your comment again…and I’d have to say I dont truly understand that math you just did xD

        9.99… should equal to 9+0.99…

    • artlover says:

      3/9 + 3/9 + 3/9 =.333 repeating + .333 repeating + .333 repeating = .9999 repeating.

      Since 3/9 + 3/9 + 3/9 = 9/9, and 9/9=1, then
      .9999 repeating = 1

      Another way:

      there is no representation of any number closer to 1 than .9999…
      if you add anything to it, it would be greater than 1, e.g.,
      .9999999999…. + .00001 =1.0000099999….

      no matter how far you go out to put the 1, you wind up with a sum greater than 1. So if there is nothing you can add to .9999….that is less than 1, then .9999… must be the same as 1

      it is a definitional thing really, due to the limitations of the decimal system of representation.

  38. cwnerd12 says:

    Symbolically, the number nine has great significgance in that it is the number three, the number of perfection (as in with the holy trinity) squared, symbolizing ultimate perfection. Or something. Dante used nine heavily in his works, and it’s found in religious and mythological symbolism heavily for that.

  39. isawelvisatwalmart says:

    Marina,

    You go girl!

    Alright…not a word but a phrase…how come so many young people use the phrase…”and what not”…and usually improperly…it’s starting to drive me bonkers!

    • staircapades says:

      Isawelvisatwalmart,

      I think it’s just another way to say “whatever”
      That icecream cone was so soggy and whatever.
      or~
      That icecream cone was so soggy and what not.

      But of course “what not” can’t be used as frivolously as “whatever”.

  40. gdsmack says:

    Hey Marina,

    Dobrey utro!! Just joined and wondering about my name – “Godsmack”. I know what it means, but why?? Xarosego Dnja!! :smile:

  41. skywaka says:

    Here’s a chicken or the egg question…”Bug.” Did the noun or the verb come first? For example: Those pesky little things flying around are really bugging me, lets call them “bugs.” Or “Those bugs are really annoying, they are bugging me!” One plays off the other…but I wonder which came first??

  42. beeb says:

    Do “Hmong”

  43. mattgoffriller says:

    i think that “to the nines” refers to divinities that are more ancient than the Muses. it is well known that Ancient Egyptian religion often had deities that were associated in trinities of two different types father-mother-child (Osiris-Isis-Horus being one such trinity) and also parent-brother-sister (Atum-Shu-Tefnut is an example).

    Ancient Egyptian (Old Kingdom) religion was not unified. each city had its own favorite local trinity. attempts to unify the country are reflected in the creation of systems to incorporate local gods. so there are ogdoads (groups of 8, 4 male-female pairs) and enneads (groups of 9). eventually the Egyptians settled on groupings of gods in nines as the most satisfying.

    the most importan of these enneads was that of Heliopolis which strongly influenced the Greeks. the Greeks used ennead as a translation of the Egyptian term pesedjet. the important neo-Platonic Greek philosopher Plotinus’s major work was written in Alexandria Egypt and titled “The Enneads” for instance.

    so i think that the origin is very ancient. to be fit in some way “to the nines” of “for the nines” means to be fit for the highest deities.

    i wonder if this is worthy of a B+?

  44. kittyfantastico27 says:

    I would really like to know where the word giddy comes from. When you say you are giddy about something ( something makes you giddy) or you say giddy up to a horse. Where do we get this?

  45. warlock266 says:

    hey Marina were does the word Kraken come from. :mrgreen:

  46. theboss says:

    OK, then!

    Since there has been soooooo much S.*.*.T. over your use of the word “S.*.*.T.” in conjuction with butterfly, I had a thought.

    Your mission is to cut through all the S.*.*.T. and find the origin of the word S.H.I.T.

    :idea: ……Ask an old sailor!

    theboss

  47. seandonner says:

    Where did the word cocktail come from? I need to know for striking up a conversation.. Dinosaurs just isn’t doing it for me! :grin:

  48. matalexwolf says:

    Would the saying ‘ Cat of nine tails ‘ have anything to do with dressed to the nines? – otherwise, am with prospero811……..

    • runawayscott says:

      A ‘cat of nine tails’ is a short whip with nine cords on it, sometimes with metal barbs on the end, it was a common form of punishment on naval ships

      • matalexwolf says:

        sounds nasty!

        so re-thinking a little so if, dressed UP to the nines, would this have any relation to CLOUD NINE? being UP high in the sky!

  49. faraoh01 says:

    Hi,

    I’ve had several ideas for lessons but I’ll start with one:

    I’d like to know where the use of surnames in expressions comes from.

    Like “John Doe”, “Average Joe” or “Dick and Jane”

    You probably won’t be able to do all of them in the same video but I thought I’d ask anyway.

    Thank you.

  50. nabeelnaeem says:

    kindly tell me about origin of the word _(deja vu)

    your fan

    nabeel naeem

    pakistan

  51. badmojo1961 says:

    My dear teacher, blond haired little boys are often said to be “tow headed”. What is the origin of this description? Does this also apply to girls? Such as, “My dear teacher is a lovely and vivaciously tow headed educator.”

  52. lividemerald says:

    To the nines she was dressed
    With tattoos on her breast
    Of round eggs in a nest
    My hand I did there rest
    Her tolerance to test
    My fingers were her guest
    The round eggs I caressed
    Those tattoos were the best
    I was very much impressed
    But she thought me a pest
    This girl from Bucharest
    Even so I was blessed
    (Me, a guy from the West)
    To have explored her chest

  53. zerozink says:

    I’d say, the reason people say 9 is because that is the best you can get to perfect, and no one is perfect, so It’s similar to your best for yourself. (I say this from a 9/10 scale or 99/100 or even 90/100 It’s still really nice, but not perfect)

  54. coulat says:

    May I say Marina, you looked truely scrumptious today. But you always do, so I can’t believe you haven’t yet investigated the word scrumptious. Your dear student Coulat awaits with eager anticipation.

  55. muggins says:

    Dressed to the nines comes from long ago, when seats farthest from the stage cost a pence, and the seats closest to the stage cost 9 pence.

  56. artlover says:

    Mathematically, in any number system, the highest digit can be used to represent perfection. 9.999999 etc. = 10

    .99999 etc. = 1.0

    1/9 = .11111 etc.
    2/9 = .22222 etc.
    3/9 = .33333 etc.

    9/9 = .99999 etc. = 1

    0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9 You see, 9 is the highest digit in our base 10 number system. So 9 is really as high as you can go.

    99.99999 etc. = 100

    It is not just an approximation, but exactly equal. This is because of the limitations of representing a number system in a finite number of digits. If we were using base 64, as the Babylonians did, then we would say dressed to the >>>, or whatever symbol they used to represent the 63rd digit.

    • buzzword says:

      9.999∞ would never completely approach 10. So how could it ever successfully equal 10? Question not a comment.

      • artlover says:

        No, it is exactly equal. The illusory discrepancy appears because of the base ten number system. By definition 9/9 = 1. But 9/9 also equals .9999 ad infinitum.

        When you calculate in a higher base, you get a more precise physical answer for the same number of digits. This is why the Babylonians measured the square root of 2 closer than the Egyptians did, or so I have read, because they used base 64 instead of base 10.

    • buzzword says:

      I suck at math, but if 9.9999 has an infinite amount of 9′s after it, making it infinite then how can an infinite number be equal to 10 which is finite? If I recall high school math this 9.999=10 is a calculus thing. Calculus, which also postulates that all straight lines are actually arcs on an infinitely larger circle. And to calculate the arc on such curves demands that there actually be two points on the same curve coming around again that are so close together that they are conveniently one point. Kind of the same way calculus says that Ï€ or 3.14∞ is conveniently 3.14 even though their not. I remember my prof. saying, “for all intents and purposes” a lot to simply explain the approximations. I have yet to find support for my recollections. I am trying. Most however support your argument. You may be 9.999% correct but if I find .000∞1 your fucked.

      • artlover says:

        What we are talking about here are repeating decimals, not irrational numbers. Repeating decimals can be represented as a fraction, thus 3/9 = .33333 repeating. These are just two representations of the same number.

        What is interesting is that if you follow the series, 9/9 = .9999 repeating, but of course 9/9 also equals 1 by definition. This is the only point I want to make you think about. The discrepancy is a conceptual one and comes about by the limitations of any decimal system itself.

        What you mean to talk about are limits and limit theory, which was invented after calculus was already in use for some time, as a theoretical explanation for it. It is not necessary to use limits in this case because all we are talking about is the symbolic representation of a particular kind of fraction.

        You should also remember that mathematics is a science and as such it is based on assumptions and reasoning. Most of mathematics uses the axiomatic method. In number theory, this involves reducing assumption to the fewest possible number. A theory based on fewer assumptions is considered better than one that has more. However, it is all theoretical. It is unfortunate that high school math is taught in such a dogmatic way.

        You are welcome to try to find .000∞1 of course. However, it is not a question of approximation but of the representation of a fraction in decimal notation.

      • artlover says:

        In a decimal system, which is based on 10 digits, 0 through 9, you can never exactly reach 1 by getting close to it. So if you are approaching the number 1 from the bottom, there will always be another ….9 to add on. These nines would stretch to infinity. In other words, by any calculating algorithm, you cannot get exactly one unless you define it at such. So we can safely define .9999 repeating as the same as unity. There is no decimal representation of something between .999 repeating and unity.

        The higher the number base, the closer would be the approximation. If the number base were infinite, then there would be no difference, however, then nothing would repeat anyway. There would be no need for digits. This is why I say that the apparent discrepancy is only a logical one, one based on the fact that in any decimal like system, decimal being based on 10 of course, there is always a minimum separation which comes to be represented by a repeating decimal.

        In fact, when you see a repeating decimal you know that you are dealing with a rational number, one that can be represented by the ration of two whole numbers. 3/9 = .3333333 repeating, for example.

        3/9 is finite but it has an infinite decimal representation. It is the same thing as 9/9 = .9999 repeating = 1. Of course, if you use a calculator and divide 9 by 9 the answer will come out as 1 because this is the way the calculator is designed, programmed.

        But do this, add 3/9 + 3/9 + 3/9 =.333 repeating + .333 repeating + .333 repeating = .9999 repeating. Since 3/9 + 3/9 + 3/9 = 9/9, thus
        .9999 repeating = 1. QED.

        When you deal with numbers, it is important to understand that they are only logical constructs. There is a whole course and field of number theory. I took on course on that once with a funny old professor who made the seven of us sit in the front row, where we were subjected to occasional drops of spittle while he lectured.

        Form a practical statistical viewpoint, whenver you get a result of a limited number of trials where the ration is greater than .99 or even .9 for a small sample size, if we assume a binomial distribution, then we should suspect that the true population value of our sample estimate is in fact unity. Getting a series of decimal nines should make you suspicious that the true value may be one. This is why intuition is still important.

        When I taught statistics, I used to give hand out the statistics on the racial composition of those executed in the US for rape, which only occurred in the US South, from 1924 to 1964 (the year the Supreme Court banned executions for a while. These numbers do not include lynching of course). The proportion in most cases was greater than .9 or over 90% Black. Hmm…Could it be that they only executed Black men? Now Texas had a lower number, .84, but this I reasoned was because the Texans threw in a few Mexicans as well. The percentage was also closer to unity in the Deep South than in the Border States. Even though, we do not measure exactly 100%, it is still possible to see that this was a racially dichotomous application of justice, i.e., a form of racial bias.

        I threw this last bit in there to give this discussion some social significance.

  57. freekzero says:

    Howdy горячедляслов,

    Yet another word request to add to the pile!

    “Used frequently to declare a story involving known characters as fitting in with the existing storylines, it also describes a musical piece where multiple copies of the song are played concurrently but with a regular offset.”
    “What is canon.”
    “Yes for $200. And the bonus followup question worth $400, provide the etymology of the word.”
    “Hmm… I’d like to use one of my lifelines. I’d like to call Marina.”

    So the two common uses of “canon” seem to have nothing obvious in common, and it looks like there may me a number of other meanings for this word to boot. Where does this word come from and how did it get so many meanings? Could the word actually have multiple etymologies, with the different meanings coming from different sources? And is “etymologies” even a word?
    And for YOUR bonus question, name the three TV shows alluded to in my little pop culture references above.

    Thanks!

    PS. if you go on Red Eye again, make absolutely sure you don’t go on with Carrie Keagan (whom is also a past guest). What with the two of you broadcast simultaneously, there would be alot of melted TV sets being replaced across the continent.

  58. zippy says:

    Marina, why do they call things that people are scared of “Phobia’s” :?: Inquiring minds want to know ? Zippy

  59. evn153 says:

    Ok, I have a word for you Marina. I’ve always wanted to know the origin of the word meme (Pronounced meem).

    It is defined as:
    “A unit of cultural information, such as a cultural practice or idea, that is transmitted verbally or by repeated action from one mind to another.”

    It looks like it might be greek coming from the work mimēma meaning to immitate.(maybe where we get the word mime also?)

    Thats my best guess, but I’m not exactly a philologist.
    ———————–
    And with the nines thing, maybe this will help:
    The hebrews referred to 9 as the symbol of ‘immutable’

    truth because when you multiplied a number by 9 and added the digits of your answer together, it always equaled 9. For example 2*9=18, 1+8=9

    In accordance with the truth theme, scholars of the Bible classify the number nine as a number of judgement.

    Others beleive that the number 9 symbolizes perfection because it is the highest single digit number.

    Many Chinese temples are built around a concept of a magic square which is based on the number 9.

    • buzzword says:

      the word meme was used by Richard Dawkins in his book the Selfish Gene. Your right that he based it on the greek mimeme. The concept is or was very popular among the pseudo avant-garde. I recall discussing the subject in the counter culture corner of the coffee shop. In my opinion the concept behind memes encourages a better understanding of culture transmission. Memes as a social theory is shallow, lacks rigor, fails to produce anything verifiable, does not improve on existing social theory. Memes are merely analogy taken to the extreme and analogy does not imply truth. I was fascinated by the concept of memes but realized its limitations. There are numerous other social theories that have been used which are much more effective models of social organization and function. However they are often more complex and demand increased effort to understand and apply. In addition they require more coffee during cafe discourse.

  60. 2h0t4u says:

    Hey Marina, my conclusion is that “Nines” is an Acronymous word.
    It describes that a person has a perfect look.
    Here is what “Nines” really means.

    Neat
    Impeccable
    Nevertheless
    Elegant
    Semblance

    Dress to the neat impeccable nevertheless elegant semblance.

    Ps. Whatever you grade me, i want to see my report card in my email.

    Kisses~!

  61. bonesdmz says:

    Не, никто не знает наверняка :)

  62. bleu_canary says:

    I believe that dastheboss is close. The number 3 is biblical. It signifies the most of the most. Just like how in the english language we have, good, better and best. That is like the number three. When ever you see something repeated three times that signifies that it is of importance, great importance. So I believe that the number nine is a repetition of three, three times. So, it’s like the UBER-most important or something.

    • jroger says:

      I was taught that when studying the Bible, 3 is the number of manifestation. The belief that saying a demonds names 3 times will cause it to manifest springs from this. Also if you read scholarly accounts of hauntings, people often report hearing 3 knocks when no is there to knock. That is the beginning of the haunting, supposedly.

  63. jwade says:

    Word suggestion:

    There has been a lot of caucusing lately, and that got me to wondering about the word “caucus”. Where does it come from? … and is it related to the word caucasian?

  64. jroger says:

    In old english to let means to restrain or hinder. Like in tennis when they say let ball. Refering to the net restraining the ball. In some King James version Bibles they still have the old english word. It makes it sound like they’re telling you to misbehave.

  65. burakmete says:

    side burn

    can you tell us the origin of “side burn”. thank you.

  66. pjdadj63 says:

    the ch has the kkkkkk sound why ?

  67. pjdadj63 says:

    :sad: I have word for you . I am not sure on the spelling of it . But here i go i had to do 48 weeks of CHEMOTHARAPY on top of the 30 something pills i have to take for the last 2 years and it’s not aids or hiv my word is CHEMOTHARPY
    I would appreciate it !

    Thank-you

    PJ DA DJ 63

    PS… Could you please do i in a red bikini for me
    and let me know ahead of tie so i can watch it

    thank-you a fan who might not
    have long you are smokin

  68. roachmeistercom says:

    I’d like to request a chronological list of all the old videos. All us Johnny-come-lately’s have to piece together what comes after what in an alphabetical list, and I begin to fear I will never know the reason behind the unique identifiers for eleven and twelve.

    • lividemerald says:

      There used to be a video listing like that on this site. Each video was listed chronologically by number. I just checked, and all I could find was the alphabetical listing. That’s very useful, but I see your point. When I discovered hotforwords, I watched all the videos chronologically, and it was amazing to see how Marina’s style evolved and how the graphics became more and more sophisticated. If the video listing is just eluding me, perhaps Marina can point you in the right direction. If it truly is no longer available, perhaps it can be reinstated.

    • Marina says:

      roachmeistercom, ask and you shall receive.. I just made up a chronological list for you.. go here:

      http://www.hotforwords.com/chronological-list/

      Early stuff is rough :shock:

      :-)

  69. Vacca Ingis says:

    “The whole nine yards” refers to nine cubic yards of concrete poured from a truck.

    • jroger says:

      I read the U.S. had planes in wwII that had strands of bullets nine yards long. Giving them the whole nine yards meant spending all your rounds on one target at one time. Besides the first dump trucks were 6 cubic yards, they didn’t make the 9 yard and 12 yard trucks till much later.

  70. labbatt78 says:

    I would say 9 is great as in cloud 9 but I think 10 would b perfect as in a rating. I can’t wait for the report card even I’m naughty or nice :lol:

  71. :arrow: I’m curious about words that take plural form, but are considered singular.

    Examples:

    Pants & Panties
    Scissors
    Buttocks

    • lividemerald says:

      Jeans, though in French the singular form is used: un jean.

    • buzzword says:

      suites were sold with a pair of pants because they would wear out before the jacket. Buttocks refers to both ass cheeks, one has a left buttock and right buttock. No idea about scissors.

    • aLx says:

      this is just a complementary remark.

      they’re called pluralia tantum (latin, ‘plural only’), the opposite are singularia tantum (latin, ‘singular only’).

    • deragor says:

      It’s usually because they’re made up of two parts, or designed to be used with double things, like legs for panties. In any case, they recall the idea of “double, simmetrical or split in two”.
      Pluralia Tantum, in latin, were different, since they also referred to cities (many ppl, plural idea) or small islands.

  72. 3215121 says:

    Nine is a card of completion (so is Ten, but we’ll get to that). Like the Hermit, who connects to the nines, it is a card where something is finished and the person in turn steps back to look on what he’s done, earned, or gained. Nines are among the most powerful cards, usually granting the Querent what it is they, like the Hermit, are seeking.

  73. bibul says:

    Hi,

    I’m a new member. I’m a french comics drawer and I’m an Hotforwords addict…

    So, I don’t know about the “9″ solution, but in France, instead of “Dressed to the nines” we’re saying “être sur son 31″ (To be on his 31″. Another number for the same meaning.

    But don’t ask me why, I really don’t know… ;o)

    Thanks a lot Marina… Love from France !

    Bibul

    • lividemerald says:

      Has Paolo Eleuteri Serpieri published any new graphic novels in the Druuna series? I have Clone, which came on the heels of La planète oubliée. I also have number 4 in the series Les Aventures de Jérôme Moucherot. Is number 5 out yet? I realize that Serpieri is not French, but his series is very popular in France, as I’m sure you are well aware. Il y a de plus en plus de Français sur ce site, et je suis content de les voir. (Ah, la grammaire vient de révéler que je suis un homme !) Enjoy the site, Bibul.

  74. augie says:

    :razz: how about :razz: DRESSED TO KILL :razz: KISSES ur always dress to kill my sweet teacher

  75. fleetwood says:

    Dear marina I am not reciving an email when a new word is posted.

  76. ghotioutofh2o says:

    hi, i have a few requests:
    1) out of the woodwork
    2) over the hill
    3) hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliaphobia (fear of long words)
    3) sweating like a pig, since pigs don’t sweat much / at all
    and i’ll 2nd strange034′s request for “strange”

    and fyi, ‘ghoti’ is pronounced ‘fish’

    • Bob says:

      gh as in rough,
      o as in women,
      ti as in station.

      Do you also have a small beard? (A goatee)
      If so, that would make you a barbel, and a barbel out of water would be a barbarian?

  77. shcutie50 says:

    OK
    i have a request :mrgreen:
    this one is good
    why do they call the boss of something “the big cheese” :?:
    i mean, who would want to be called cheese? :neutral:

  78. jesterred says:

    I have one for you. Where does the phrase “Spick and Span” come from and why does it mean when something is very clean? Thanks for all the effort you put into your lessons!!

  79. justgetalife6 says:

    I want to request the word “ass”. How did it go from referring to a donkey to a person’s buttocks?

  80. dfannin43 says:

    Maybe someone just made up the phrase dressed to the nines and it stuck. Sometimes i make up sayings and they stick. lol. Like for instance. I got tired of using the word cool so instead of saying hey that shirt is cool i say that shirt is RAW. lol. Its dumb maybe someone was just like Dang girl you dressed to the nines tonight!! haha. I dont know. Here is my word i want you to figure out marina or phrase. idk. It is the bomb, or Da bomb. That would be a good one.

  81. strange034 says:

    I know the whole nine yards is a refrence to concrete a cement truck holds nine yards of concrete and when you buy cement you need to buy the whole nine yards even if you don’t need that much.

    I would like to request the word “strange”

    • dvdpage says:

      You are right about concrete trucks payload being nine yards and that is where the saying came from as far as I know, however, You can get ten yards delivered in todays modern trucks (at least the company I deal with) and you can certainly don’t have to order all nine yards in one delivery. They charge you a delivery fee for smaller loads under six yards in some cases. It depends upon the company you are dealing with and what your relationship with them is.

  82. dank1313 says:

    hi teach,
    i gotta say teach u really do have alot of mistakes when makin’ videos. Does THE CAT HAVE YOUR TOUNGE?

  83. blackwolf says:

    Well, after searching for quite some time, I am deciding to sit this one out since 99.999999999….of most Etymologists can’t decide on the true meaning and have been disagreeing with each other for almost 189 years. Great lesson! It is always a pleasure!!!
    Luvs

  84. toysjoe says:

    Something bad happened to me today. :sad: I don’t want to talk about it but it DID lead me to think up THIS SAYING. So I guess it wasn’t totally bad.

    out of the blue

    what is the origin of the phrase. I’m fairly certain we haven’t done it.

    If anyone can explain it to me, that’d cheer me up!

  85. buzzword says:

    um… I looked up, “nines” on the online etymology dictionary and it states, “No one seems to consider that it might be a corruption of to then anes, lit. “for the one (purpose or occasion),” a similar construction to the one that yielded nonce (q.v.).” So, would it be “dressed to then anes” or “dressed for the occasion”?

  86. JD says:

    Word origin request:
    STEREO (like dual-channel sound)
    &
    STEREOTYPE (like an oversimplified view of a group)

    Thanks.

  87. cbrom says:

    Hello Marina, first I wopuld like to say how much I enjoy your teachings, and that your picture on the cover of dress to the nines reminds me of Cleopatra. You always dress to the nines in my book. Congrats on your website and hope your doing well.

    Love you

  88. roachmeistercom says:

    It begins to look as if there is such a cloud of superlatives relating to the number nine that it just got drafted for the job.

    That’s my final answer.

  89. biglittle55 says:

    how about the phrases “DEED RINGER”, or
    “PAINT THE TOWN RED”.

  90. JD says:

    Another 5 star lesson!
    (Plus 4 stars just for kicks)
    Don’t overthink this one people…
    9 is the highest single digit number and that’s why most of the phrases that used 9 came about.
    Sometimes, the simplest explanation is the one that is most likely correct. :idea:

  91. trgoblin says:

    Can you find the earliest reference to the 9 sided star or – Enneagram?

    I think this might be significant in determinining when people started to use the number 9 to describe perfection. Supposedly, the 9 sided polygon – star – represented a perfect design. It must date back further than the 1700′s… maybe even to the origins of geometry and formal mathmetical systems.

  92. aLx says:

    thong: 1.
    bra: 1.
    stockings: 2 x 1.
    shoes: 2 x 1.
    dress: 1.
    coat: 1.
    necklace: 1.

    so there. dressed to the nines.

  93. nighteye says:

    Well, 9 is the highest single-digit number – and a number consisting of all nines is higher than any other number with the same amount of digits. So being dressed to the nines is being dressed as good as possible.

    Btw, Marina, are you an Eudaimonist? Just wondering… :smile:

    • lividemerald says:

      Had to check that word out. Hmmm… eudaemonism (eudaimonism): a theory that the highest ethical goal is happiness and personal well-being. Reminded me of hedonism. Looked that word up for a definition comparison…. hedonism: the doctrine that pleasure or happiness is the sole or chief good in life. It would be interesting to differentiate between the two. Please, nighteye, can you help? (I do notice that the word “ethical” is not use in the definition of hedonism, but I don’t know if that is the key here.)

      • nighteye says:

        It is the key. You cannot be truly happy if you feel guilty – so being truly happy is only possible if you live a virtuous life.

        Eudaimonism is the pursuit of Eudaimonia:

        “Eudaimonia is constituted, according to Aristotle, not by honor, or wealth, or power, but by rational activity in accordance with virtue over a complete life. Such activity manifests the virtues of character, including, honesty, pride, friendliness, and wittiness; the intellectual virtues, such as rationality in judgment; and non-sacrificial (i.e. mutually beneficial) friendships and scientific knowledge (knowledge of things that are fundamental and/or unchanging is the best).

        Plato’s middle dialogues present a somewhat different position. In the Republic, we find a moral psychology more complex than psychological eudaimonism: we do not only desire our ultimate good; rather the soul, or mind, has three motivating parts – a rational, spirited (approximately, emotional), and appetitive part – and each of these parts has its own desired ends. Eudaimonia, then, is not simply acquired through knowledge, it requires the correct psychic ordering of this tripartite soul: the rational part must govern the spirited and appetitive part, thereby correctly leading all desires and actions to eudaimonia and the principal constituent of eudaimonia, virtue.”

        Pardon the copy-paste quotation of that part, but it explains the concept pretty well.

      • lividemerald says:

        Thank you nighteye. Since hedonism is not seen as a partcularly virtuous philosophy of life, I guess that is the main difference. I appreciate your explanation very much. I’ve learned something new!

  94. acegforce says:

    Hi Marina,

    I play a Video game on my computer that is called “The Elder Scrolls”. And in this game there are gods and goddess’ called Adrea, or most commonly known as “The Nine Divines”. (obviously because there are nine of them) they are the good higher beings that people worship in the game. The Story and Mythology gets pretty Complicated and Interesting if I keep going but I’ll just keep it short.

    The Nine Divines are worshiped for their Beauty, Inteligence, Forgiveness, and Power. It is interesting to see a phrase that I can relate to one of my fictional/fantacy Video Games. If someone in the game said they were “Dressed to the Nines” I would think they meant they were dressed to their Standard or Approval, or that they were dressed in a beautyful way that resemebled “The Nine Divines”.

    The whole game is Fictional, with Werewolfs, Vampires, Elves, Orcs, Sorcery, and Magic. I love the game and I can see how this Phrase can be used in such a way that even in fiction It makes sence that “Dressed to the Nines” can mean to be dressed Magnificantly.

    • ragabashmoon says:

      Yeah, man before Marina mentioned it I didn’t realize… Nine is like… the number… 7, 13, all the numbers that are significant… Seems like 9 has them all beat… yet we don’t know why!? I mean why did Bethesda come up with 9 Divines and not 7 or 13?

      In the words of Mr. Owl, “The World may never know!”

      • ragabashmoon says:

        Is it maybe as a species we just LIKE the #9? I mean I heard a theory once about architecture… Something about an architect can make a building but it has to conform to certain mathematical formulas, or else it will just FEEL wrong to everyone that sees it. They won’t be able to say why (unless they are an architect I guess) but the just won’t LIKE the building. I probably didn’t explain that right for it to make sense, but hopefully you’ll all get the gist.

        OH got another 9 for you all…

        Love Potion No. 9!!

  95. roachmeistercom says:

    Word request.

    Did “fokken” ever just mean “to poke”? I’ll leave the clever philologists to determine where this line of questioning leads.

    Oh, and Tolkien was a philologist too. How cool is that?

    • eseverson says:

      He wasn’t just a philologist, but a hardcore linguist as well. He studied how languages function, not just where words come from. However, the two disciplines are closely related. Tolkien actually created his own language, and used Lord of the Rings as a context for his language. That’s cool, too!

  96. pennsyltucky9 says:

    Okay, enough already.

    In accordance with Occam’s Razor, I’m gonna go ahead and wildiy conjecture that “to the nines” came about in reference to the highest single-digit number to which people could refer when trying to describe something numerically overwhelming, thus rendering it available to commonfolk lacking in mathematical schooling.

    Or, to revert to the White Album reference, “You become naked…”

    Either one works for me.

    • eseverson says:

      I was thinking the same thing, but that theory doesn’t explain the plural. “To the “nines“, not “to the “nine“. Whatever “nines” refer to, it’s probably mathematical, though.

      • dvdpage says:

        Maybe it’s because the number system didn’t include the zero until Aramaic influence some time ago.. so the nine was top of the top?
        I have no clue about plural but maybe just a figure of speach? Iv’e heard nine is the majic number of identity such as 9×6=54 and 5 and 4 equals nine. This is a good challenge!

  97. fleetwood says:

    I woild like to Know what taylor made means

    • roachmeistercom says:

      Made by Taylor.

      What? :???:

    • pennsyltucky9 says:

      Yeah, it’s really supposed to be tailor-made, as in ‘made to your specific measurements by an actual person who makes clothing by hand one piece at a time (a tailor)’. The “Y” in the spelling indicates that someone (ostensibly named Taylor instead of the real spelling “tailor”) has done some creative word-wrangling in order to include their surname in their corporate monniker by referencing a commonly-used phrase from the old English.

    • tayzlor says:

      I believe I can speak with authority on this one. Quite simply, I’m responsible for that. If its Taylor made, or indeed TAYZLOR made, you can be assured much time, love and Jesus Juice has gone into its creation, and is at the very apex of design. :wink:

  98. toysjoe says:

    Here are two questions. Please answer them anyone.

    Why are grapefruits called that? It’s an orange that taste bitter. I don’t get it.

    Why are eggplants called that? The don’t look anything like eggs.

  99. pdawg says:

    Word request- cleavage , and , our poor presidential candidates still cant pronounce Medvedyev correctly, please help!

  100. roachmeistercom says:

    Well, there were nine tribes that came out of Egypt, and a half tribe.

    So I think it should be, “dressed to the nines and a half.”

    “With a snap.”

  101. How did the belief that a cat has nine lives come about?
    I heard it was during Egyptian times when the they worshiped cats.
    Today I hear that it was because cats have an equiviancy lifespan of 9 years for every 1 human year (kind of like dog years). Although, I have heard more realistically it is closer to six years for every one. So whether cat’s have 6 or all 9, I must say a cat’s got my tongue on this one.

    I don’t know about 9′s, but I always dress for success. Great show though

  102. prospero811 says:

    Here’s a really good one – http://philologos.org/__eb-nis/nine.htm

    It seems the main significance of the number nine, religiously, has been that it is the “ultimate” or the “end” (i.e. – as far as you can go or as high as you can go).

    Perhaps it’s as simple as it being a reference to being dressed as good as you can be – the best number is 9 – so the best dressed is dressed to the nines.

  103. prospero811 says:

    Some significances of the number nine might be helpful in thinking about this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/9_(number)

    * Important Buddhist rituals usually involve nine monks.
    * The first nine days of the Hebrew month of Av are collectively known as “The Nine Days” (Tisha HaYamim), and are a period of semi-mourning leading up to Tisha B’Av, the ninth day of Av on which both Temples in Jerusalem were destroyed.
    * Nine, as the highest single-digit number (in base ten), symbolizes completeness in the Bahá’í Faith. In addition, the word Bahá’ in the Abjad notation has a value of 9, and a 9-pointed star is used to symbolize the religion.
    * Nine is a significant number in Norse Mythology. Odin hung himself on an ash tree for nine days to learn the runes.
    * Jesus healed ten lepers; nine did not even thank him.
    * Anton LaVey applied the number to Satan.

    Nine is strongly associated with the Chinese dragon, a symbol of magic and power.

    Nine is a composite number, its proper divisors being 1 and 3. It is 3 times 3 and hence the third square number. 9 is a Motzkin number. It is the first composite lucky number.

  104. aLx says:

    it’s “copy & paste”.

    • Marina says:

      True…. otherwise he would have erased the website he was taking the information from! :oops:

    • buzzword says:

      aLx on April 5th, 2008 3:28 pm
      it’s “copy & paste”.

      • buzzword says:

        buzzword replied on April 5th, 2008 3:46 pm:
        aLx on April 5th, 2008 3:28 pm
        it’s “copy & paste”.
        [Reply]
        Logged in as buzzword. Logout »
        Ask for a word or add a comment

      • buzzword says:

        no, infinite digress

      • Marina says:

        They interviewed Cartman from South Park on National Public Radio this morning and they asked him who his hero is.. and his response was

        “This might sound kind of egotastical.. but it’s actually.. I’d have to say myself. Um.. and it’s only because like.. if you could see me.. I actually do really cool stuff.. and most of the kids think I’m really cool, and um, basically everything about me is so cool that I just sort of, I look up to myself and it becomes this sort of goes back on itself… I look up to myself and it raises me up and I look up to myself and it raises me up and I just get cooler all the time.

        Through all the mumbling.. it’s another vicious cycle :-)

      • I agree, it is a bit off the topic, and we all caught the gist of what was said. I’ve heard “native” English speakers speak with far less clarity.

        i.e, have you ever noticed how many people say “irregardless”, when it is actually supposed to be “regardless”. The suffix “-less” suggests being without the root word. Adding the prefix “ir” is simply surpurflous and redundant.

        And like “cut and paste” it is a colloqial term that suggests unoriginal thought and transaction. In regards to “copy” I hear people ask for a “xerox” when really they meant photocopy (Xerox is a brand of photocopiers and printers, not an action itself). Or they say “Jello” instead of gelatin, and “band-aid” instead of bandage. You see? Nuances are a nuisance, and colloquial phrases are a cultural trend that even “natives” of that culture mispronounce from time to time.

    • jroger says:

      It’s not polite to correct the teacher. Proprieties please!

      • aLx says:

        first, I just reminded her, I didn’t correct her.

        second, I didn’t remind just her.

        third, my favorite prof. was always open to arguments, questions, doubts, rethinking, and corrections of mistakes she made accidentaly (which almost never happened and it was mostly her who noticed them, she didn’t have a problem with correcting herself, unlike so many other scholars).

        fourth, she’s old enough to speak for herself.

        fifth, I am pretty sure she can handle it.

        sixth, I humbly apologize if my comment entirely or in part offended your religious and/or moral beliefs.

        seventh, do you happen to own a horse, by any chance?

      • thegreenman says:

        Props aLx.

        “seventh, do you happen to own a horse, by any chance?” This is golden

      • jw777 says:

        It was a joke. Sorry if I hurt your feelings. It’s past time for your ritalin.

  105. air-z says:

    Marina,
    should we watch & rate videos on your website or on youtube???

  106. prospero811 says:

    Hi Marina!

    Nobody knows, according to the one cut-and-pasted above, and according to world-wide-words as well. http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-nin1.htm

    Online etymology dictionary suggests the 9 muses theory, and also says “No one seems to consider that it might be a corruption of to then anes, lit. “for the one (purpose or occasion),” a similar construction to the one that yielded nonce (q.v.)”

    AskOxford says “This expression is, according to the complete Oxford English Dictionary, recorded from 1793 in the poetry of Robert Burns: ‘Thou paints auld Nature to the nines’, it is recorded in a slang dictionary published in 1859. Slang is always difficult to pin down, and old slang is almost impossible. There are many expressions connected with the number nine, including ‘nine days’ wonder’.”

    So, it seems the trusty, and o’ so snappy dresser, Marina has it right again! Nobody knows!

    You weren’t dressed to the three’s by the way. You were definitely dressed to the nines, and there’s no way anyone would ever say you were just a “nine day wonder.” I’d have to say you are “all dressed up with SOMEWHERE to go!” “Nine times out of ten,” Marina you are “dressed to kill,” as you were in this video. I was on :cloud nine: watching your video. Do you always “dress for success,” or do you just follow the old axiom “dress for the job you want?” Nobody would ever accuse you of being “dressed up like a dog’s dinner” or even “mutton dressed” that’s for sure. Did you tear your dress? Remember, “a stitch in time saves nine!”

    If possession is nine-tenths of the law, then you own my heart, Marina!

    Well, I may have taken this to the “nth degree” – but, I’ll give you a “nickel’s worth of free advice” – keep the videos coming!

    Love,

    Eric

    • Bob says:

      Slang is always difficult to pin down, and old slang is almost impossible. There are many expressions connected with the number nine, including ‘nine days’ wonder …

      And, of course, “… for the sake of Old Slangs Nine” :lol:

      Er… maybe this comment should be forgot. :roll:

  107. branditothebandito14 says:

    calipygian

    • branditothebandito14 says:

      woah i thought i was typing but only my last word came out.. :mrgreen: anyways what does the word calipygian mean and where does it come from? My Latin teacher used the word so i want to know what it means. So could you please use calipygian?

      • thegreenman says:

        nice word… great for stealthily complimenting a girl (or guy) in the presence of their significant other.

        “You are looking quite calipygious this evening”

    • prospero811 says:

      That might be one of those words that sound naughty, but aren’t – like:

      titular
      corkscrew
      cummerbund
      angina
      jactation
      kumquat
      masticate
      paradiddle
      periwinkle
      rectify
      shuttlecock
      cock-a-too
      succulent
      turgid

  108. nice.
    I mean, the match between that pillow and your dress.

  109. davidramati says:

    Dressed flamboyantly or smartly.

    Origin

    The phrases ‘to the nines’, or ‘to the nine’, were used to indicate perfection – the highest standards. That was in use in the 18th century, as here from William Hamilton’s Epistle to Ramsay, 1719:

    “How to the nines they did content me.”

    ‘To the nine’ also appears in a translation of Voyages de Jehan de Mandeville chevalier, which appeared anonymously in France, circa 1357 and is attributed to Sir John Mandeville:

    “Sir king! ye shall have war without peace, and always to the nine degree, ye shall be in subjection of your enemies, and ye shall be needy of all goods.”

    The original work was written in Anglo-Norman French and is much translated. Whether the ‘to the nine’ is a literal translation from the original or whether it was added by translators later, and possibly as late as 1900, isn’t clear. It doesn’t seem likely that the phrase existed in English as early as the 14th century, not to appear again in print until the 18th century.

    ‘To the nines’ has now gone out of use and only persists in the more specific ‘dressed to the nines’ (or sometimes ‘dressed up to the nines’).

    Dressed to the nines, or dressed up to the nines are merely a version of the phrase that is applied to clothing. That is first cited in John C. Hotten’s A Dictionary of Modern Slang, Cant, and Vulgar Words, 1859 as:

    “DRESSED UP TO THE NINES’, in a showy ‘recherché’ manner.”

    Many theories abound as to what prompted the phrase to be used in reference to dress. The fact that the prior phrase to the nines had been in existence for at least 150 years before we see dressed to the nines makes it obvious that the derivation of the variant version of the phrase need have had no connection with the number nine. Despite this, various attempts have been made to guess at the origin. One has it that tailors used nine yards of material to make a suit (or according to some authors a shirt). The more material you had the more status, although nine yards seems generous even for a fop. Another commonly repeated explanation comes from the reportedly smart uniforms of the The Wiltshire Regiment (Duke of Edinburgh’s) 99th Foot, which was raised in 1824. The problem with these explanations is that they come with zero hard evidence to support them, apart from a reference to the number nine (or even 99, which seems to be stretching the cloth rather thinly). The regiment was raised in the early 19th century, which is the right sort of date for the phrase to begin to be used in the middle of that century. It is at least plausible that the to the nines phrase was matched with the 99 of the regiment’s name to and reputation to coin dressed to the nines.

    As we have seen ad nauseam with similar attempts to explain the whole nine yards, there are many things that come in groups of nine. Almost anything associated with the number has been at some point put forward as the origin of this phrase. The fact is, we aren’t sure.

    While no one knows the origin of ‘to the nines’ it is worth noting that nine has been used as a superlative in other contexts. Classical mythology gave us the nine Muses of arts and learning. The Nine Worthies were drawn from the mythology, history and the Bible. This distinguished group was Joshua, David, Judas Maccabæus, Hector, Alexander, Julius Cæsar, Arthur, Charlemagne, and Godfrey of Bouillon. We also have the nine days’ wonder. All of the above would have been well-known when this phrase was coined. A more recent link between nine and excellence is ‘cloud nine’.
    One very persistent theory is that the British Army’s 99th Regiment of Foot were renowned for their smartness, so much so that the other regiments based with them at Aldershot were constantly trying to emulate them — to equal “the nines”. The big problem with this theory is that the story dates from the 1850s, and the phrase is older.

    Or could there be a mystical significance to being “dressed to the nines”? Read on:
    Of all the single digit numbers, nine (9) may be the most profound. Composed of three trinities (3 times 3 equals 9), nine represents the principles of the sacred Triad taken to their utmost expression. The Chaldeans believed 9 to be sacred, and kept it apart in their numerology from the other numbers. Nine has been and in some cases still is considered thrice sacred and represents perfection, balance, order — in effect, the supreme superlative.

    In Numerology, the positive characteristics of nine (9) are selflessness, fulfillment, completion, universality, universal understanding, interrelatedness, compassion, idealism tolerance, forgiveness, generosity, benevolence, humanitarianism, emotionalism, and justice. Nine is also associated with accomplished artists and thinkers who are inspired by universal truths. Simultaneously, 9 can represent negative characteristics, from selfishness to extravagance to vulgarity — essentially the opposites of the positive characteristics.

    In the base 10 system, where all numbers are represented by ten distinct forms (0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9), nine is the final number. As such, it becomes a limit, a bound, or the ultimate attainment. The Greeks called “nine” the horizon, where the Ennead, or the nothing/void lay beyond. Expressions such as “a cat has nine lives”, a “cat-o’-nine-tails”, “the whole nine yards”, “cloud nine”, “dressed to the nines”, “a stitch in time saves nine”, and “possession is nine point (or nine-tenths) of the law” are all variations of the concept of the ninth level being the nth degree, the highest level, or the maximum possibility.

    Ancient and modern traditions are replete with ninefold symbolism. The Norse God Odin, ruler of the 9 Norse worlds, hung 9 days on the world axis or Yggdrasil tree to win the secrets of wisdom for mankind. In Scandinavia, 9 day fertility feasts were held every 9 years. There were 9 Norse giantesses, who strode 9 paces at a time and lived at the edge of the sea and land. The city of Troy in Homer’s Iliad and Oddessey was besieged for 9 years, while Odysseus wandered for 9 more years in trying to return home. The Greek goddess, Demeter, was depicted with 9 ears of wheat and searched 9 days for her daughter Persephone. The birth of Apollo and Artemis by Leto took 9 days and nights (Artemis becoming the midwife in the process and later choosing two 9-year old girls as her companions). The Greeks also honored 9 muses, while the Egyptians honored a company of 9 “gods” or neteru. Egyptian pharaohs, meanwhile, were often symbolized by 9 bows. Celtic traditions talk of 9 Celtic maidens and 9 virgins attending Bridget, while the sacred Beltane fire rites were attended by a cycle of 9 groups of 9 men. Aztec, Mayan, and Native American myths describe 9 cosmic levels (four above, earth, and four below). As the most auspicious number of celestial power in ancient Chinese, 9 became the rule in 9 great social laws, 9 classes of officials, 9 sacred rites, and 9-story pagodas. The festival of the “double yang” was held on the 9th hour of the 9th day of the 9th month. In Christian symbolism, there are 9 orders of angelic choirs in 9 circles of heaven and 9 orders of devils within 9 rings of hell — possibly accounting for the fact that it took 9 days for Lucifer and his angels to fall from heaven. And speaking of fallen angels and/or hell, there are 9 justices of the United States Supreme Court!

    There were 9 Gods of the Sabines (an ancient tribe of Italy): Aeneas, Bacchus, Esculapius, Fides, Fortuna, Hercules, Romulus, Santa, and Vesta. Medieval theology listed 9 orders of Angels, i.e., Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones, Dominions, Virtues, Powers, Principalities, Archangels, and Angels; 9 Stones: Sapphire, Emerald, Carbuncle, Beryl, Onyx, Chrysolite, Jasper, Topaz, and Sardis; and 9 Beatitudes. In heraldry, there are 9 accepted places on the shield that signify the heralidic arms. There are even 9 Worthies, famous individuals comparable to the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World: Alexander (the Great), Hector, Julius Caesar, Joshua, David, Judas Maccabaeus, King Arthur, Charlemagne, and Godfrey of Bouillon. [See Clovis I to Godfroi and Crusades and Secret Societies.] There are even 9 magnitudes of the Richter Earthquake Scale (the latter theoretically possible but has never occured during human history — it would amount to probably four times the intensity of the 1964 Alaskan earthquake).

    According to one source, Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa (1486-1535) has described the Number 9 by noting that it is dedicated to the Muses. Considering the nine movable spheres (the planets of antiquity), and the nine Muses — Calliope, Urania, Polymnia, Terpsichore, Clio, Melpomene, Erato, Euterpe, Thalia — Agrippa considered which nine Muses were appropriated to the nine Spheres. He did this by noting that the first resembles the supreme Sphere (the Primum mobile), and descending in order to the Sphere of the Moon, he determined that Calliope is appropriated to the Primum mobile; Urania to the Starry Heaven, Polymnia to Saturn, Terpsichore, to Jupiter, Cleo to Mars, Melpomene to the Sun, Erato to Venus, Euterpe to Mercury, and Thalia to the Moon.
    Beethoven wrote 9 symphonies, after which he died. To this day, a superstition among many musical composers forbids the numbering of a symphony past the number 9. Mahler wrote more symphonies, but never named any one of them, number 9. Equally superstitious, Baseball has 9 innings and 9 players (often playing at 9-figure salaries — if we include the decimals), and figures the “bottom of the 9th” to be the last chance to win.

    On a higher level, Abraham was 99 when the Lord spoke to him, Islam acknowledges the 99 Beautiful Names of God, and “amen” (from the Hebrew “so be it”) transforms in the Greek alphabet into the number 99. And if you want to get thoroughly mathematical…

    The 3 by 3 Magic Square is revered in the cultures of Islam, Jains 4 9 2

    of India, Tibetan Buddhism, Celts, African, Shamanic, and Jewish 3 5 7

    mysticism. In this arrangement, the three columns, three rows and 8 1 6

    two diagonals always add up to fifteen. In Feng Shui the numbers

    within each cell of the magic square have specific significance for working with the earth’s subtle creative energies for the good of society and the environment.

  110. steviepeeps says:

    Meaning

    Dressed flamboyantly or smartly.

    Origin

    The phrases ‘to the nines’, or ‘to the nine’, were used to indicate perfection – the highest standards. That was in use in the 18th century, as here from William Hamilton’s Epistle to Ramsay, 1719:

    “How to the nines they did content me.”

    ‘To the nine’ also appears in a translation of Voyages de Jehan de Mandeville chevalier, which appeared anonymously in France, circa 1357 and is attributed to Sir John Mandeville:

    “Sir king! ye shall have war without peace, and always to the nine degree, ye shall be in subjection of your enemies, and ye shall be needy of all goods.”

    The original work was written in Anglo-Norman French and is much translated. Whether the ‘to the nine’ is a literal translation from the original or whether it was added by translators later, and possibly as late as 1900, isn’t clear. It doesn’t seem likely that the phrase existed in English as early as the 14th century, not to appear again in print until the 18th century.

    ‘To the nines’ has now gone out of use and only persists in the more specific ‘dressed to the nines’ (or sometimes ‘dressed up to the nines’).

    Dressed to the nines, or dressed up to the nines are merely a version of the phrase that is applied to clothing. That is first cited in John C. Hotten’s A Dictionary of Modern Slang, Cant, and Vulgar Words, 1859 as:

    “DRESSED UP TO THE NINES’, in a showy ‘recherché’ manner.”

    Many theories abound as to what prompted the phrase to be used in reference to dress. The fact that the prior phrase to the nines had been in existence for at least 150 years before we see dressed to the nines makes it obvious that the derivation of the variant version of the phrase need have had no connection with the number nine. Despite this, various attempts have been made to guess at the origin. One has it that tailors used nine yards of material to make a suit (or according to some authors a shirt). The more material you had the more status, although nine yards seems generous even for a fop. Another commonly repeated explanation comes from the reportedly smart uniforms of the The Wiltshire Regiment (Duke of Edinburgh’s) 99th Foot, which was raised in 1824. The problem with these explanations is that they come with zero hard evidence to support them, apart from a reference to the number nine (or even 99, which seems to be stretching the cloth rather thinly). The regiment was raised in the early 19th century, which is the right sort of date for the phrase to begin to be used in the middle of that century. It is at least plausible that the to the nines phrase was matched with the 99 of the regiment’s name to and reputation to coin dressed to the nines.

    As we have seen ad nauseam with similar attempts to explain the whole nine yards, there are many things that come in groups of nine. Almost anything associated with the number has been at some point put forward as the origin of this phrase. The fact is, we aren’t sure.

    While no one knows the origin of ‘to the nines’ it is worth noting that nine has been used as a superlative in other contexts. Classical mythology gave us the nine Muses of arts and learning. The Nine Worthies were drawn from the mythology, history and the Bible. This distinguished group was Joshua, David, Judas Maccabæus, Hector, Alexander, Julius Cæsar, Arthur, Charlemagne, and Godfrey of Bouillon. We also have the nine days’ wonder. All of the above would have been well-known when this phrase was coined. A more recent link between nine and excellence is ‘cloud nine’.

    See also – the whole nine yards.
    See also- the BEATLES! NUMBER NINE NUMBER NINE!! LOL. :roll: .

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    Copyright © Gary Martin, 1996 – 2008

    • Marina says:

      steviepeeps, nice cut and paste job.. but even with all that writing.. you’ll see that it basically says the same thing that I said.. and it doesn’t give any additional information on the significance of the number 9. I’m going to go with the Beatles Number 9…. I think that’s where it call came from :-)

  111. rockannaroll says:

    I have a word request! I always wanted to know the origin to the work Tomboy. like a girl that acts like one of the guys.
    keep up the great work!

  112. temerc says:

    Marina is always dressed as ’10′+ in my book… :wink:

  113. ibm6789 says:

    I have a word suggestion.. why does “bogey/bogie” mean so many different things? one over par in golf, an unidentified radar blip, a chasis of a train, and I think it also means a “booger” in England (Harry Potter tells me so…) anyway, I was wondering about that last night after they said it on Battlestar Galactica….

    • pennsyltucky9 says:

      Comes from the Gaelic, “bogert” similar to a mischievous woodland pixie or elf. Perpetrator of unknown mysterious changes or disappearances.

      • Bob says:

        Or maybe it comes from a people called “The Bugis”, the most numerous of the three major linguistic and ethnic groups of South Sulawesi, the south-western province of Sulawesi, Indonesia’s third largest island. They had a reputation of being fearsome pirates sailing their incredibly beautiful schooners, prau bugis, around they Indonesian archaepelago, preying on British and Dutch shipping and sailors who brought their fear of the Bugis home and frightened their children into obedience with the threat that the Bugi Man would get them if they did not behave.
        That is what I have been told is the origin of the epithet “The Bogey Man”.

      • john_hair says:

        … etymologists disagree with this because words relating to bogeyman have been commonly used centuries before European colonisation of Southeast Asia and it is therefore unlikely that the Bugis would have been commonly known to westerners during that time.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bogeyman

      • john_hair says:

        Yeah, okay, maybe not the best resource for information, but what the hell … :oops:

  114. dastheboss2 says:

    yay first comment

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Not your typical philologist! Putting the LOL in PhiLOLogy :-)