Just to confuse children and newcomers to the English language, the following Money Idioms use the words: penny, nickel, dime, dollar, buck, cash, and cheque to explain something other than what the words say. Even the words penny, nickel, dime, or buck, stand for 1¢, 5¢, 10¢ or $1 and can confuse people from other countries.
Idioms are a combination of words with a meaning different from the meanings of each individual word. The resulting phrase does not always follow the normal rules of meaning and grammar. Have fun going over these idioms with your children and see what they think. And yes, there will be a test…
cost a pretty penny
- expensive; to cost a lot of money
That new bike cost a pretty penny.
cut off without a penny
- when someone stops giving another person a regular allowance; to be disinherited from a will.
The children were cut off without a penny when they left home.
not one red cent
- a tiny sum of money used to show little value
I would not give a red cent for that old thing.
pennies from heaven
- money that you do not expect to get; a windfall
The cheque we received in the mail was like pennies from heaven!
penny for one’s thoughts
- a comment that requests someone to share what he is thinking about right now.
“A penny for your thoughts.” my friend said as I gazed off into the distance.
- to be thrifty or careful spend money
My brother pinches pennies and does not spend foolishly, just like his grandfather.
two cents worth
- to add one’s opinion or comments to a discussion, even if not asked for.
My brother always put in his two cents worth if there was a conversation going.
to not have two cents to rub together
- to have almost no money
My sister does not have two cents to rub together; she is always broke.
not worth a cent/a red cent/two cents
- to be of no value; not worth anything
The antique painting was not worth a red cent although priced high.
dime a dozen
- plentiful and easy to get; worth very little
Old video cassette movies are a dime a dozen since movies on DVD became popular.
to nickel and dime someone
- to charge many small amounts for extras beyond the contracted price.
The contractor nickel and dimed me on all the extras.
a plug nickel
- having almost no value; worthless
“I wouldn’t give you a plug nickel for that old horse.” The farmer said.
on a dime
- in a very exact location
My brakes are so good, I can stop on a dime.
as sound as a dollar
- seemingly real and dependable
Many believe that the bitcoin is as sound as a dollar.
turn on a dime
- to maneuver in a very tight spot; to change directions or circumstances quickly
This car is very flexible and can turn on a dime.
not worth a dime
- to have no value, not worth anything
The antique dictionary is not worth a dime although some think it very valuable.
the almighty dollar
- money, viewed as more important than anything else
Businesses today focus on chasing the almighty dollar.
bet one’s bottom dollar
- to bet everything on something because you are positive you will win
I can bet my bottom dollar that it will rain today.
- someone’s last dollar
They spent their bottom dollar on food for the children.
dollar for dollar
- comparing the cost versus value
Dollar for dollar staying in a hotel made more sense than camping.
feel like a million dollars/bucks
- to feel fantastic, to feel well, energized
After that nap I feel like a million bucks.
look like a million dollars
- to look very good, well dressed, polished
The children looked like a million dollars as they went up on stage.
make a fast/quick buck
- to make money quickly with little effort
Lazy people are always looking to make a quick buck.
make an honest buck
- to make an honest living
Hard working John has always made an honest buck with his work.
make big bucks
- to make a lot of money
Oil rig workers make big bucks at their job.
pass the buck
- to put the responsibility or blame on someone else; to pass the decision to another
Whenever there is a mistake, my boss passes the buck to me.
phony as a three-dollar bill
- fake; phony; not genuine
The on-line charity was as phony as a three-dollar bill.
tight to the dollar
- to not like spending money; thrifty; miserly
He saved a lot of money since he was so tight to the dollar.
- twenty-five cents, a quarter of a dollar, a 25¢ coin.
“Run to the store, and I’ll give you two bits,” said his mom.
- selling items for cash only with no delivery included
All the lumber was on sale, but it was cash-and-carry only.
cash in on something
- to make money from a sale or an opportunity, sometimes intangible.
The former actress cashed in on her popularity to later sell makeup.
cash on the barrelhead
- debt paid for by cash; no credit offered
“It will be cash on the barrelhead or no deal.” the auctioneer shouted.
cold hard cash
- cash; coins or bills
I paid for my Christmas shopping in cold hard cash.
strapped for cash
- no money left or available for use at this time
We were strapped for cash after our vacation.
cut a cheque
- to write and give a cheque for payment
The company cut me a check to pay for my extra expenses.
give a blank cheque
- to give someone permission to do as they want without limits
The company gave the department a blank check to fix the problem.
honour a cheque
- to accept payment by personal cheque
The landlord honoured my cheque for the apartment rent.
make a cheque out
- to fill in a preprinted cheque with a date, name, amount, signature
I made a cheque out to the company who built my fence.
- a promise to repeat an invitation at a later date
I received a rain cheque from the grocery store since they were out of the sale item.