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Use Of Coin Terms In The English Language

 
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 Posted 06/22/2021  7:06 pm Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add Pertinax to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
As well as being a numismatist, I'm a writer in a group of writers in various genres and of varying experience who meet together in Kelso, Scotland, to help people to improve their writing skills and to help people begin writing fiction and to reduce social isolation.

One of our writers has written a story set in the US in the mid-19th century. In the story, the wife had an accident and needs care from the doctor. She recovers enough to be a wife but needs more care which her husband isn't willing to pay for. She tells her friend "John won't pay another penny".

That would be perfectly understood in Britain but would it be in the USA?

I realise that you call your cents, pennies and I imagine that's a hangover from the 19th century or earlier, but would people use the word "penny" in that sense?

Another writer is wondering what the phrase "not a red cent more" means. Am I correct in thinking that a red cent is a newly-minted cent (as in MS 64 RD)?
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 Posted 06/22/2021  7:39 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Spence to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
@pert, yes I would recognize the phrase "not pay another penny" without any issues. I know that we have some sticklers over in the us modern variety and error subforum, but in non-numismatic scenarios, I would use "cent" and "penny" interchangeably (pun intended).
"If you climb a good tree, you get a push."
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"The danger we all now face is distinguishing between what is authentic and what is performed."
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 Posted 06/22/2021  8:12 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add southsav to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply


I would recognize either.

Also, I believe the use of "red cent" dates back to at least the 1500's and may be attributed to the copper tone of coins during that era. The Indian head didn't arrive until the 1800's.

Good question.
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 Posted 06/22/2021  8:20 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add tdziemia to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Absolutely that phrase ("Won't pay another penny") is understood as intended by that writer!

I would go so far as to say that in non-numismatic America, the coin to which you are referring is still ... almost always ... a PENNY!

And now I'm gonna give my Two Cents' worth on a denomination you didn't even ask about (thereby breaking an old writers' rule on never ending sentences with a preposition).

In my parents' generation (mid-20th century America), "two bits" was still commonly used as slang for a U.S. quarter dollar, "two bits" meaning two eighths of a Spanish 8 reales.
Even in my teen years I remember hearing high school cheerleaders (hmmm ... maybe they don't exist in the UK) chanting:
"Two bits, four bits, six bits, a dollar
All for (school name) stand up and holler!"

to get the crowd engaged at sporting events .
Edited by tdziemia
06/22/2021 8:23 pm
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 Posted 06/22/2021  8:48 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Coinfrog to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
How about "not worth a plugged nickel"?
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 Posted 06/22/2021  8:58 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Coinfrog to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Or, "Phony as a 3-Dollar Bill".
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 Posted 06/22/2021  8:59 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Coinfrog to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
How about "Bet your bottom dollar".
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 Posted 06/22/2021  9:34 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Spence to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Is we are doing this, then I want to add "a penny for your thoughts".
"If you climb a good tree, you get a push."
-----Ghanaian proverb

"The danger we all now face is distinguishing between what is authentic and what is performed."
-----King Adz

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 Posted 06/22/2021  11:29 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Sap to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
Also, I believe the use of "red cent" dates back to at least the 1500's and may be attributed to the copper tone of coins during that era. The Indian head didn't arrive until the 1800's.

No, the cent wasn't around in the 1500s, and neither was the expression. "Penny" was not always slang for "cent". In pre-revolutionary America, when everyone still used pounds, shillings and pence (or Spanish dollars), the British "copper penny" didn't exist yet - the 1 penny copper coin was first struck in 1797. Before this, copper halfpennies were common and circulated widely, and were roughly equivalent to a cent; so using "penny" for "cent" would have caused confusion as to exactly how much money or which coin you were talking about. "Copper" was the usual slang for a 1 cent coin (or it's halfpenny precursor), from the 1790s through to about the 1820s, by which time most of the generation that remembered using actual pennies had died out. "Not worth a copper" was the typical expression used, up to the 1820s when "red cent" came into vogue. It's possible that "red cent" rather than plain old "cent" replaced "copper" to keep the same two-syllable metre in the expression.
Don't say "infinitely" when you mean "very"; otherwise, you'll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite. - C. S. Lewis
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 Posted 06/23/2021  01:24 am  Show Profile   Check Yokozuna's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add Yokozuna to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Don't take any wooden nickels. (My wife gave me this one.)
Penny pincher.
Not a dime to his/her name.
Penny for your thoughts. (Nod to Spence)
Dollars to donuts.
Shave and a haircut two bits. (Nod to tdziemia)
Another day, another dollar.

Is this the type of stuff you're looking for?

I could go on, but I want to give everyone a chance. Should I stop here?

This is fun!
"Shine, shine a Roosevelt dime. All the way to Baltimore and runnin' out of time." Tom Waits-Clap Hands



Edited by Yokozuna
06/23/2021 01:31 am
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 Posted 06/23/2021  02:01 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add january1may to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
"Day late and a dollar short" is one phrase that comes to mind.

I wonder when people stopped saying "not worth a Continental".
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 Posted 06/23/2021  04:44 am  Show Profile   Check NumisRob's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add NumisRob to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Common English expressions include:

"Not worth a brass farthing" - from the days when many tradesmen's tokens were made of brass and were of limited use outside the area where they were issued.

"I wouldn't give tuppence for..." - typical derogatory statement, could be used when talking about almost anything, even a TV show or a football team.

If you have a car with a very tight turning circle, it used to be common to say "This car can turn on a sixpence". Typically said in conjunction with the traditional London taxis, which were designed to be able to turn around easily in narrow one-way streets.

An expression which originated only in 1969 and has already gone out of use is "Ten-Bob Bit" - used extensively in 1969-71 to refer to the new 50 pence coin, which was equivalent to ten shillings. A 'Bob' was a common term for a shilling.

King Henry VIII apparently gained the nickname 'Old Coppernose', as his shillings (testoons) were made of debased silver, and after a short period in circulation, the silver coating on king's nose, which was the highest point of the design, wore off to reveal the copper beneath!
Edited by NumisRob
06/23/2021 04:45 am
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 Posted 06/23/2021  07:04 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Pertinax to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks, everyone.

I especially like

Quote:
"Two bits, four bits, six bits, a dollar
All for (school name) stand up and holler!"
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My wants list: http://goccf.com/t/283145
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532 Posts
 Posted 06/23/2021  4:03 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add deadmunny to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
"As queer as a two dollar bill". Back in the old days, queer meant strangely unusual.
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