Columns » Words

Blue moot of Kentucky



"Is Ashley Judd going from Hollywood to Capitol Hill? The media sure hope so. Otherwise Mitch McConnell's reelection race will be deadly dull. The well-known actress was mooted as a potential candidate for U.S. Senate from Kentucky last month in what merely seemed to be a light-hearted post-election story."

Skip Kendel writes: "As a law school graduate, I'm familiar with the word moot, but I've never seen mooted before. Are you familiar with this word or its usage?" Vaguely. Moot is usually an adjective meaning "debatable, doubtful" or "not actual, theoretical." When the judge says a point is moot, he doesn't want to hear any more about it. But occasionally moot appears as a verb, meaning (as in this case) "to present or introduce for discussion," or "to reduce or remove the practical significance of."

I recall Eddie Sutton mentioning a willingness to crawl from Arkansas to Kentucky to be the basketball coach at the University of Kentucky. I'd make that same crawl to see Ashley Judd run against McConnell. Beauty v. Beast, indeed. And appearance wouldn't be her only advantage.


I've been asked a number of times about the origin of the phrase "the whole nine yards" and could never find a persuasive explanation. I'm not the only one, according to the New York Times:

"When people talk about 'the whole nine yards,' just what are they talking about? ... Does the phrase derive from the length of ammunition belts in World War II aircraft? The contents of a standard concrete mixer? The amount of beer a British naval recruit was obligated to drink? Yardage in football? The length of fabric in a Scottish kilt (or sari, or kimono, or burial shroud)? Type the phrase into Google and you're likely to get any of these answers, usually backed by nothing more than vaguely remembered conversations with someone's Great-Uncle Ed. But now two researchers using high-powered database search tools have delivered a confident 'none of the above,' supported by a surprise twist." The surprise twist is that the phrase first appeared in print, the researchers say, as "the whole six yards" and sometime over the years, somebody raised the ante. But six or nine, nobody knows the significance of the number, and the researchers conclude that it has no particular significance, that it was chosen randomly, and that "the whole nine [or six] yards" is just another way of saying "the whole thing" or "the whole shebang."

Add a comment