ENGLISCH/917: Questions to Mrs Gobbledygook (192) The full Monty (SB)


192. The full Monty?

Dear Mrs Gobbledygook

I stayed in London for my holidays and the landlady of my "bed-and-breakfast accommodation" in Hampstead often used the phrase "a full monty". I never heard this before and my dictionary says "Monty" is short for "Montreal", a city in Canada. This doesn't make sense. When I asked native speakers, they answered either "well, everything" or something like "the whole enchilada" which didn't help much, of course. Now, maybe you can help?


Jan O (Denmark)


Dear Mr O

Well, you nearly got it. The phrase "the full Monty" is the title of a movie, which was popular in Britain years ago and the name of the film has become a catch phrase which is used fairly often now in the English language. The correct phrase is written

"The full Monty"

Monty is the name of a person from the film, so it is written with a capital letter.

People don't very often take film titles and make them catch phrases. But this one had existed before as a slang phrase. It is generally used to mean "everything which is necessary, appropriate, or possible".

This British film in 1997 focuses on a group of unemployed men who take "all" their clothes of to earn some money. Now, the origin of the word "Monty" is uncertain. It possibly goes back into the 1980ies. Monty is a rather obscure word, actually. Nobody quite knows where it comes from. There are several origins discussed at "". But I quite like the suggestion that it comes from a firm of clothing manufacturers, whose tailor was called Montague Burton. For a complete three-piece-suit meaning trousers, waistcoat, jacket, in the 1970ies or 80ies you would say: You were wearing the full Monty. And of course since this film came along you are talking about the complete lack of clothing.

So in other words the modern meaning of the phrase is "everything which you need, which is appropriate". And sometimes its used for "everything you want".

When your packing a suitcase, you're packing the full Monty or you might say "I've got the full Monty now" when you are ready.

If you are ordering an ice cream Sunday and the waitress askes whether you want chocolate sauce, cream or nuts on top. You might say: "Yes, I want the full Monty", if you want it all.

Now to end these explainations I hope I have given you the full Monty, or at least the whole enchilada about this expression, anyway.


Miranda Gobbledygook

11 July 2013