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The whole nine yards
Posted: 10 August 2012 11:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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And what’s a nine-yard shovel pass in American football?

A shovel pass is an underhanded throw. The only instance of “nine-yard shovel pass” I was able to Google up was a simple reference to a pass 9 yards long that happened to be thrown as a shovel pass.

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Posted: 10 August 2012 12:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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I was thinking more like:
4344.d-450x299.jpg

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Posted: 10 August 2012 01:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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The Admiral Land quote form 1942 is well known to those of us who follow the topic. The consensus is that it is not a use of the phrase as such, but just a random collocation of words. He’s literally referring to nine shipyards. Plus it’s really obscure statement, given in congressional testimony by a not-famous military man and not widely reported. It’s highly unlikely to have been the inspiration for the phrase.

And power shovels are frequently measured in cubic-yard or cubic-meter capacity. So a nine-yard shovel would hold nine cubic yards of dirt and would have been one of the biggest shovels in existence in the late 40s. (They’re much, much larger nowadays; I’ve seen a reference to an 80-yard shovel.) But I’ve never seen any evidence of the phrase being linked to mining or excavation.

[ Edited: 10 August 2012 01:10 PM by Dave Wilton ]
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