nine tailors make a man

nine tailors make a man
The literal meaning is that a gentleman must select his attire from various sources. It is now sometimes specifically associated with bell-ringing (see quots. 1908 and 1934).

1613 Tarlton’s Jests C1 Two Taylors goes to a man.

1647 N. WARD Simple Cobbler 26 It is a more common then convenient saying, that nine Taylers make a man; it were well if nineteene could make a woman to her minde.

1776 Poor Robin’s Almanack II. C6v Do ye know how many Taylors make a Man? Why Nine—Nine Taylors make a Man.

1819 SCOTT Letter 26 July (1933) V. 427 They say it take nine tailors to make a man—apparently, one is sufficient to ruin him.

1908 H. B. WALTERS Church Bells v. When the Knell is rung, it is a frequent practice to indicate of the deceased... The old saying ‘nine tailors make a man’ is really ‘nine tellers’ [strokes], or three times three.

1912 A. BRAZIL New Girl at St. Chad’s i. There’s a saying that it takes nine tailors to make a man, so if your name is Taylor you can only be the ninth part of a lady!

1934 D. L. SAYERS Nine Tailors IV. iii. The voice of the bells of Fenchurch St. Paul... Nine Tailors Make a Man.

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