Last week A Word a Day (http://wordsmith.org/awad/awadmail.html) was listing new entries in the Oxford English Dictionary, and full monty was one of these. Anu at AWAD reported that the response was enormous, and included the following theories on the origin of the term, in order of popularity:
From clothier Montague Burton who advertised a complete three-piece suit (see The Full Monty for more fulsome details on this);
From demobilized British soldiers who were to collect a full set of civilian clothes from the "official" tailor on Montague Street;
A corruption of Monte Carlo, where full monty would be a big win;
From the old European card game, monte, aka 3-card monte and monte bank;
A corruption of the phrase "the full amount."
From the best available grade of wool, which came from South America via Montevideo;
From an ad for Del Monte juice, which insisted on the full Del Monte; or
From the promise every now and then on Monty Python, to present full frontal nudity.
- After Field Marshal Montgomery:
- From his penchant for eating full breakfast of eggs, sausages, bacon, tomatoes, fried bread, and more, even while battling in the North African desert;
- From his habit of always showing up in full military regalia, wearing all his medals and pins, no matter what the circumstances, "showing it all" or "showing all he had";
- From his preparedness for battle and how he gave his full effort.
- From his practice of working in his tent naked in North Africa's intense heat;
- From his being the first to use carpet bombing, dropping bombs over every bit of enemy territory, including military and civilian areas;
- For protection and security, Montgomery would often have a double appear at functions, so the full Monty refers to the few occasions when Montgomery would appear in person;