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The Wordhunt logo
Wordhunt - the full monty

Your language needs you

Do you have vital evidence that could link Leeds with the phrase 'the full monty'?

"After World War II, Burton was a major supplier of de-mob suits. 'The full monty' may be an expression first used to describe these suits. "

It is thought that the phrase may have originated in Leeds because of the city's link with Montague Burton's tailoring empire and the production of three-piece de-mob suits at the conclusion of World War II.

Now a major series for BBC 2, in conjunction with the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), about the origins of words is hoping the BBC Leeds audience can help.

Among the 50 words or phrases being researched by Wordhunt is 'the full monty’.

The Leeds theory has not yet been proved conclusively. And the earliest documented use of the phrase is as recent as 1985.

Can you provide any proof of an earlier usage of the phrase? Or that it conclusively originated in Leeds?

The OED online says of the phrase: "...the most plausible is that it is from a colloquial shortening of the name of Montague Maurice Burton (1885-1952), men's tailor, and referred originally to the purchase of a complete three-piece suit."

Your vital evidence could be in the form of an unpublished document, a sound archive, or even a postmarked letter.  What is important is that the evidence can be dated.

Other theories link the origin of the phrase to Field Marshal Montgomery and his wartime briefing style, or perhaps his love of a large breakfast, or does it comes from the card game Three Card Monte, or to shipments from Montevideo… The list goes on. 

And so, the time has come to pin down the phrase and to give the OED the full monty on the full monty! People of Leeds, your language needs you!

Find out more about working at Burton's
Burton - a leeds legend >
video Sam Bernstein on making a suit >
video Stanley Barnet on Hudson Road >
Audio and Video links on this page require Realplayer

If you can provide any evidence of 'The full monty' go to the Wordhunt website, or send an email to

You can write to:
BBC Wordhunt
132 Grafton Road

last updated: 09/01/06
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