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The full what?

Cara Herron

The origin of the now well-known and popular phrase “the full monty,” is widely debated. The recorded definition is “the full amount,” but its origins are not fully known.Many best guesses are related to the actions of Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, called “Monty” by his troops, who defeated Rommel in North Africa in World War II. It is suggested that the phrase refers to Monty’s habit of eating a full English breakfast each day, including eggs, bacon, sausage, tomatoes, mushrooms, baked beans, toast and tea. Or, perhaps it is from the remarkable display of medals worn on his chest. Or, maybe it is in reference to his long and fastidious military briefings during the war.

Another interpretation of the phrase is linked to another man of World War II, British tailor Montague Burton. Burton was known for supplying civilian clothes to soldiers leaving the war. A soldier went in to Burton’s in uniform and came out of Burton’s in a three-piece suit, or “the full monty.” Others believe it comes from the Spanish-American card game Monte, derived from the Spanish word for “mountain.” The mountain in this case being the heap of cards that rests in the middle of the table during play. The winner then, would collect the entire pile, or “the full monty.” Also in the gaming vein, Australians and new Zealanders use “monty” as slang for a bet, typically on a horse, that is a sure thing.

And while thought to be less likely, some claim the phrase comes from a 1980s Del Monte fruit commercial. In it, a character asks for “the full Del Monte.” Regardless of its true roots, as so many words and phrases do these days, “the full monty” has evolved through pop culture and art to have a life of its own – a totally naked life that is.Vail Colorado




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