Thursday, May 18, 2006

word of the day: Dressed to the nines

Dressed to the Nines

This phrase dates to the 18th century, first appearing in 1787 in Burns's Answers to Verses in the form 'Twad please me to the nine. The dressed is a later addition, so the nine certainly does not refer some aspect of clothing. The phrase is also often rendered up to the nines.

The most likely explanation is that nine, in some numerological systems, connotes perfection. So that dressed to the nines means that you have achieved sartorial perfection.

Another common explanation is that nine in the phrase is a corruption of eyne, the Old English word for eyes. But the phrase appears too late for this to be likely.

1 comment:

Leesa said...

I saw a different answer here. Love the last sentence: no one knows.