Naval ships returning to port would be "dressed overall" (bunting and flags) and have as many sailors as possible lined up on the nine primary yards (yardarms) in salute. the practice of dressing to the nines was often used when returning from a battle, meritorious action or notable voyage.
By SailingQuiz October 2019 Category: Nautical Saying
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Definition of the nautical phrase "Dressed to the nines".