the full monte

“The full monty” has two meanings:

— the full amount expected, desired, or possible

— striptease performance involving full nudity, especially by a man

The phrase, also spelled “full Monty,” is British slang of uncertain origin. It means “everything which is necessary, appropriate or possible; the works.” Similar North American phrases include “the whole kit and caboodle,” “the whole nine yards,” “the whole ball of wax,” “the whole enchilada,” “the whole shebang,” or “[going] the whole hog.”

The phrase was first identified in print by lexicographers of the Oxford English Dictionary in the 1980s. Anecdotal evidence exists for earlier usage.

There are three theories about the origins of the phrase.

The first is Field Marshal Montgomery’s alleged insistence that his troops eat a full English breakfast every day, and his alleged habit of wearing his full set of medals. It’s true that Montgomery was universally known as Monty, but that’s also circumstantial evidence.

The second is that it refers to a full three-piece suit with waistcoat and a spare pair of trousers from the Leeds-based British tailoring company Montague Burton. When British forces were demobilized after the Second World War, they were issued with a “demob suit.” The contract for supplying these suits was partly fulfilled by Montague Burton. There is plausible hearsay evidence from staff who worked in Burton’s shops that customers were familiar with the term and often asked for “the full monty” by name. In addition, the firm began business in 1904 and, by 1929, had more than 500 shops, so the name would have been well-known.

The third theory is that it is gamblers’ jargon, meaning the entire pot, deriving from the card game called monte. But no supporting evidence exists for this one.

A friend saw the 1997 comedy film The Full Monty, in which the phrase means total nudity. His amazement caused him to report that it contained “full nudal frontity.”

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