Dime (slang)

Dime (slang)

Dime is a term with multiple slang meanings. Its formal etymology is Middle English, tenth part, tithe, from Anglo-French "disme, dime", from Latin "decima", from feminine of "decimus" tenth, from "decem" ten. Its slang uses have been related to the number 10 (since a dime is worth 10 cents), its former prominent role as common currency for itinerant phone communication, its position as the next higher valued coin above the nickel, and its diminutive size. Many idioms are derived from these slang uses.cite web|url=http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/dime|accessdate=April 3|accessyear=2007|publisher=Farlex, Inc.|date=2007|title=dime]
* A and an idiomatic noun related to informing the authorities of illicit behavior. [cite web|url=http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?sourceid=Mozilla-search&va=drop|accessdate=March 31|accessyear=2007|publisher=Merriam-Webster, Incorporated|date=2007|title=drop]
* A noun in relation to physical beauty in place of a "perfect ".
* A noun as relating to a measurement of illicit drugs (usually marijuana), which is sold in ten dollar bags.cite web|url=http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?sourceid=Mozilla-search&va=Dime|accessdate=March 31|accessyear=2007|publisher=Merriam-Webster, Incorporated|date=2007|title=dime]
* A noun as a substitute for the basketball term assist.
* An adjective in American football parlance.
* A noun to represent a small area.
* Several additional idiomatic uses related to cheap and common items.



It is used as a verb in a similar manner in phrases such as "Someone dimed me out and I got arrested."

The term comes from the era when informants used public payphones that cost a dime to make a call to the authorities. In order to make a call they had to drop a dime in the coin slot.

This is closely related to the idiomatic use of the action words "drop a dime" that substitutes for the verb inform. In the Run-D.M.C. song "Rock Box" on the 1984 album "Run-D.M.C." the following lyrics demonstrate its use as a noun.

: [Run] We don't drop dimes: [DMC] and we don't do crimes

The line translates to we aren't informants and we aren't criminals. At one time enforcement officials would tell their tipsters "If you have any information please drop us a dime."

More recently, A Global Threat's "Not A Dime To Drop" from the 2006 album, "Where The Sun Never Sets" the lyrics lament the fact that they have no defense and no one else to turn in.

:No defense and not a dime to drop:Can't pick up a phone and call off the cops

Payment responsibility

This pay-phone reference has extended to use in two types of idioms because, when pay-phones were the prominent form of communication, the burden of payment was on the calling party.

This was a phrase used by a call recipient who was not really interested in talking about an issue. The implication is that the recipient would not have paid a dime to discuss the issue, but since the calling party was willing to pay a dime the receiving party will hear the calling party out. For example, if your girlfriend was mad at you and did not really want to talk she might say "It's your dime."

Similarly, since the dime represented payment responsibility, idioms extended to general payment responsibility for things other than phone calls. One might ask another: "Are you traveling on the company's dime?" or "Are you traveling on the company dime?" An example from popular culture is the following verse from "The Company Dime" on The Get Up Kids' 1999 album "Something to Write Home About".:i think it's really gonna happen this time,:all out calls are on the company dime


The word can also be used to mean "beautiful woman." This particular usage derives from the ten-point scale, with 10 being the highest score. The word is often used along with the word "piece", as in "she's a dime piece". [cite web|url=http://www.thesource4ym.com/teenlingo/index.asp?PrinterFriendly=True&Letter=D|accessdate=April 6|accessyear=2007|publisher=thesource4ym.com|title=Slang Dictionary: D|date=]

An example from popular culture can be found in the Ying Yang Twins' song "Badd" featuring Mike Jones and Mr. Collipark on the 2005 album "U.S.A. (United State of Atlanta)" where in the chorus performed by Jones he expresses his aspirations of having a relationship with a beautiful and shapely woman:

:I'm lookin' for a dime that's top of the line:Cute face slim waist with a big behind

Another example can be found on the song "Dime Piece" from Nick Cannon's 2007 album "Stages".


This is a common term used in North America for a $10 bag of (marijuana or crack cocaine). In this context it is used as either an adjective or a noun. As an adjective dime describes the noun bag in "" (of marijuana). In this context, it has also become commonplace to use the term as a noun where one seeks to purchase a "Dime".

This was the origin of guitarist Dimebag Darrell's nickname; among guitarists and Pantera fans "Dime" is often used as a shorthand to refer to the late musician.

mall area

Since the U.S. Coin Dime has the smallest diameter and smallest thickness of U.S. coins, Dime has been used as a metaphor to represent a small area. ] This use has led to two common idioms related to a "precise point; within a narrowly defined area":

* [cite web|url=http://www.thefreedictionary.com/a+dime+a+dozen|accessdate=April 3|accessyear=2007|title=dime|publisher=Farlex, Inc.]

Cheap things

Dime has also been used as a metaphor to represent cheap things.

* - The phrase is used as an adjective to refer to something inexpensive or as a verb to describe debates over small amounts of money.
* - This phrase is used similarly to the adjectival use of nickel and dime in the sense that it is used to say something is so cheap you could get a dozen of them for a dime. However, it has a connotation that is similar to the adjectives "worthless", "easily obtained/replaced" or "common". [cite web|url=http://www.goenglish.com/ADimeADozen.asp|accessdate=April 3|accessyear=2007|title=A Dime A Dozen ( cheap and easy to get ... )|publisher=GoEnglish.com]
* - This is similar in meaning to "Dime a dozen". ]



Dime is used as a slang substitute for the statistic assist. Here the online version of Dime Magazine, dimemag.com uses the phrase

"Anthony Johnson put up 17 points and 5 dimes in his first game with ATL." [cite web|url=http://dimemag.com/2007/02/26/best-performance-by-a-villain/|accessdate=April 2|accessyear=2007|title=Best Performance by a Villain|date=2007-02-26]


* Dime back - In American football the standard defense has 4 Defensive backs on the 11 man defensive unit. In certain situations where the offense is likely to pass, additional defensive backs are substituted. The fifth back is referred to as the nickel back. A sixth is referred to as the dime back. [cite web|url=http://football.about.com/cs/football101/g/gl_dimeback.htm|accessdate=April 2|accessyear=2007|publisher=About, Inc.|title="About Football Glossary - Dime Back"|author=Adler, James] When the defense is in a formation with 6 defensive backs this is called either the dime formation and the group of players in the formation are referred to as the dime package. [cite web|url=http://football.about.com/cs/football101/g/gl_dimepackage.htm|accessdate=April 3|accessyear=2007|author=Adler, James|publisher=About, Inc.|date=2007|title=About Football Glossary - Dime Package] : A typical use of the dime back would be. "He is generally a return specialist. He also plays a bit in obvious passing situations as the dime back.": A typical use of the dime formation would be. "This defense likes to blitz their linebackers, but they probably won't right now while they are in a dime formation.": A typical use of the dime package would be. "It is second down and long. Unless they can pick up at least 5 or 6 yards, the defense is going to bring the dime package in."


* Dime line - A special type of sports wager with a $10 commission. [cite web|url=http://sportsgambling.about.com/od/sportsgamblingbasics/g/DimeLine.htm|accessdate=April 3|accessyear=2007|author=Bell, RJ|publisher=About, Inc.|date=2007|title=Dime Line]


In addition to slang uses, it has several idiomatic uses which derive from its outdated purchasing power:

*Five and dime store, the original name for variety stores which with inflation has become a Dollar store. These stores were often simply referred to as dime stores. [cite web|url=http://encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com/dime+store|accessdate=April 3|accessyear=2007|publisher=Farlex, Inc.|date=2007|title=Variety store]
*Dime novels, originally referred to 1860s novels of crime, mystery and intrigue that at that time cost ten-cents. [ Harvey, Charles M. "The Dime Novel in American Life." AtlanticMonthly 100 (1907): 37-45 as cited in cite web|url=http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/etcbin/toccer-new2?id=HarDime.sgm&
] [cite web|url=http://www.thefreedictionary.com/dime+novel|accessdate=April 3|accessyear=2007|publisher=Farlex, Inc.|date=2007|title=dime novel]


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • dime bag — Slang. a packet containing an amount of an illegal drug selling for ten dollars. Also called dime. * * * …   Universalium

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  • dime — noun Etymology: Middle English, tenth part, tithe, from Anglo French disme, dime, from Latin decima, from feminine of decimus tenth, from decem ten more at ten Date: 1786 1. a. a coin of the United States worth 1/10 dollar b. a petty sum of money …   New Collegiate Dictionary

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