The Whole Enchilada

Thoughts on life, work, tech & biz and the whole enchilada

Origin of the phrase “The Whole Enchilada”

Posted by wholeenchilada on November 27, 2007

I didn’t realize how popular this query was until I picked the phrase for my new blog Wow – a lot of people really want to know the origin of the phrase “The Whole Enchilada”! So I did a bit ‘o research and found some info at Admittedly, not the best source of information and probably not fully vetted, but I think the first answer to the question makes it worthy:

The Whole Enchilada 

: : : : : What is the origin of this phrase, please?

: : : : : It comes from the Mexican dish ‘enchilada’ and means ‘all of it’.

: : : : : I don’t think so. I would agree that it is obvious that the saying came from the Mexican dish. However, I thought that the poster was questioning why the phrase uses that particular dish as opposed to others. Anyone?

: : : : :Someone in the Nixon administration used this phrase on one of the notorious tapes, and it became popular. I forget who exactly.

: : : : : It was Herb Kalmbach, talking on the phone to Nixon’s assistant John Erlichmann.

Read more here:

Hahahaha!!! “It comes from the Mexican dish ‘enchilada’ and means ‘all of it’.” Sarcasm at it’s best? Idiocracy in real life? You decide! Other than that, it seems plausible that this could be the origin of the phrase. So for now I’m going to say the phrase came from Herb Kalmbach on the Nixon tapes. If I come across better info, I’ll do another post.

You can read more about how “the whole enchilada” and similar phrases at World Wide Words:

What we do know is that the whole ball of wax is everything and so essentially means the same as other American expressions such as the whole nine yards, the whole shooting match, the whole megillah, the whole shebang and the whole enchilada. Until recently, its first appearance was in the ninth edition of Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary of 1953 and was assumed to be of that period. It turns out to be much older.

Read more here:


One Response to “Origin of the phrase “The Whole Enchilada””

  1. Still dont see a good explanation for “the whole enchilada”, a phrase that means someone died.Anybody home???? Hello? Whole ball of wax doesnt refer to death, so please, can I see an explanation, WITHOUT bringing in other catchphrases?? Thank you in advance, Kenny

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