Example: The book contains everything you want to know about the topic, the whole ball of wax.
Origins: Uncertain, but first recorded in 9th edition of Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 1953. Associated with advertising usage. May also have origins in old English estate law as a way to assign inheritance. (Source.)
- the whole block of beeswax
- the whole wad of gum
- the entire lump of coal
- the bursting cache of trash
- the rich roll of cash
- the full load of laundry
- entire wall with cracks, dents, and all
Discussion: With no clear origins on which to draw for inspiration, I’ll break it down into parts – “ball of wax”, “whole ball”, “ball”, “wax”, etc.