Author Topic: more on "monty," FYI  (Read 4042 times)


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more on "monty," FYI
« on: April 07, 2007, 09:30:51 PM »
I just happened to be poking around the web looking for an explanation to your query on "that'll be the day," when I found the "word detective" website. It has a bunch of origins, and in its archives, I found the following. It's a bit lengthy, and the first part seems to be one explanation, with a rebut, so, if you want to "plough" through it, here goes (cut and pasted):

 The first explanation that came up centered around the famed British military leader Viscount Bernard Law Montgomery. It seems that during W.W. II, "Monty" could not go off to battle in the morning without a full English style breakfast in all its glory. (Something about the infantry traveling on its stomach perhaps?) Word of this got around and led to the phrase "the full monty" coming to mean, the complete goods or the whole deal. The other explanation had to do with one of the finest smokes on this mortal vale of tears (in this humble correspondent's opinion) a Cuban Montecristo. After dining on a full course meal, the male gentry, if they were truly living large, would light up a Montecristo as the perfect way to complete the culinary experience. In other words, a really grand dinner was "the full monty." From there, it wasn't too much of a stretch to get that meaning of complete or total. As good as both sound, are either close? -- David Shapiro, Tokyo, Japan.

They do sound good, don't they? You have lucidly set forth the two most commonly cited explanations for "the full monty." Unfortunately, both stories are almost certainly wrong. "The full monty" only appeared in general usage in Britain in the mid-1980's, far too late to have been common wartime slang, and there is no evidence connecting it to cigars.

There is, however, some evidence to indicate that "the full monty" was originally underworld slang for the "pot," or pool of money, at stake in a card game, which would certainly fit in with its current meaning of "the whole shebang." That gambling "monty" is probably related to an archaic card game called "Monte" (Spanish for "mountain"), named for the pile of cards from which players draw. Monte lives on, incidentally, in the form of "Three Card Monte," the classic con game (similar to the "shell game") common to urban street corners in the U.S.

Alan W

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Re: more on "monty," FYI
« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2007, 12:48:02 PM »
Thanks for that, 3B. I'd seen some of those theories before, but not the one related to the gambling pot, which does sound plausible.

ANother credible-sounding theory is that it came from Montague Burton, a tailor, and originally meant a three-piece men's suit. (Although, if that's the case, it's ironic that it came to mean full nudity!)

The comment that the expression was not widely used before the mid-1980s is not so convincing to me, as colloquial words and phrases are often around for years before they appear in print. Dictionaries like the Oxford are constantly appealing for earlier examples of usage of various words. In the case of "the full monty", such appeals resulted in evidence of two Fish and Chip shops called the Full Monty in 1982 (see Presumably the phrase had been in use for at least some time before these shops adopted it.

Perhaps we'll never know for sure, but the person who first said "the full monty" is quite possibly still living, so you'd think there's a good chance a conclusive account of the expression's origin will one day appear. Anyhow, it's all good fun.
« Last Edit: April 08, 2007, 12:58:16 PM by Alan W »
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