June 05, 2007

The Full Monty

One of the most peculiar things about languages is that over a period of time their grammar and semantics become surrogate to public opinion. Hence, it doesn't matter what your English teacher thought about that composition you wrote way back in the sixth standard. Chances are, if she revisits it today, she might award you a few more marks than she did last time.

Now changes can be orthogonal, in that a word or phrase may come to mean something completely unrelated to its original meaning. "Presently" being a case in point. When I was a young kid, it used to mean, "soon", or if you were into Wodehouse, "anon". Now it seems, it is generally accepted to mean "at present" or "currently". Then there are some whose meanings do a volte-face and become their own antonym. Which brings us to the topic under discussion, "the full Monty".

Popular opinion, courtesy of a movie of the same name, interprets this phrase to mean completely uncovered, or naked, or without embellishment. Here's the story behind its origin:

The most often-repeated derivation is from the tailoring business of Sir Montague Burton. A complete three-piece suit, i.e. one with a waistcoat, for a wedding etc, would be the Full Monty. There is plausible hearsay evidence from staff who worked in Burton's shops who confirm that customers were familiar with the term and often asked for 'the full monty' by name.

So, the next time you get invited to a formal do, you might want to go the full monty, without fear of being arrested on grounds of indecent exposure ;-).

Source: http://www.phrases.org.uk/ and my meandering experience.


666 said...

welcome rudy welcome.. my otherwise faithful vocabulary fails me to aptly express my joy at having you amongst us.

'changes can be orthogonal...' what a beautiful metaphor. and i love your prologues and introductory digressions before you actually delve into the topic.

NB: the data source and label is missing.

Abhishek Rudresh said...

Thank you, its a pleasure. Hopefully I can overcome my laziness often enough. Added the source and the labels.

Moi said...

Welcome Abhishek!!!! your meanderings made an awesome post :)
I always thought the expression had something to do with Monty Python and their "whole"-some humor ;)
a little trivia to add : there's another little story that's a week contender for the origin of the expression :
"large breakfasts eaten by Field Marshall Montgomery"

Looking forward to your future posts!!!

Moi said...

* weak.....OOPs!!!!

suramya said...

i love the way you started out :), brimming with wit. I loved the movie, and this completely explains the striptease :)

yogsma said...

welcome to the Team Abhishek..first para was awesome..

Abhishek Rudresh said...

Thanks guys, its great to be among fellow word-lovers (I think there's a term for it, can't remember it anymore... age, its getting to me!).

Jas Bhambra said...

Nice post, Abhishek. Especially the introduction before breaking into "The Full Monty". :)

P.S. I always thought (even during my childhood days) that "presenty" referred to the present! And that's why I am not the team semantica! :) Ha ha ha!