Think of some things that are too common so that they are not that valuable. Those things are very common to find and easy to obtain which makes us undermine the value. We can call these cheap, ordinary, or common things “a dime a dozen.” It is a commonly used English idiom with an interesting history. Learn everything about the expression “a dime a dozen,” including the meaning, origin, and examples.
A Dime a Dozen
English idioms are hard to understand at first glance. It can be harder than simply memorizing a vocabulary word. Especially if your first language is not English and you don’t come from a country that uses dime coins, it will not make sense. Learning the origin of the idiom and what a dime is will help you understand this expression better.
What is a dime?
Dime is a type of coin, and it is worth 10 cents. Canada and the United States both have their own dime coins. The size is almost the same for both Canadian and American dimes. The Candian dime is made of nickel, so it is magnetic. However, the American dime is mostly made of copper, so it is not magnetic.
A Dime a Dozen Meaning
When someone says that something is a dime a dozen, it is very common and doesn’t have a special value. This idiom is used in a negative way. Saying that something is very common and easy to get cannot be a compliment!
Here are some synonyms of a dime a dozen:
Origin of A Dime a Dozen
The expression was first seen in the 1800s in the United States. During this time, people were often able to buy a dozen grocery items with a dime. So, 12 things only cost $0.10. Some of these things included apples, buns, and eggs. It was a phrase for shops to attract grocery shoppers. It will make more sense if you understand “a dime a dozen,” the 19th-century version of “buy one get one free.”
So, the fun fact is that a dime a dozen used to be a good, positive thing. It meant that buyers were able to get things at a good deal! However, now it is used in a negative way to describe something with not much value.
A Dime a Dozen Examples
See “a dime a dozen” in example sentences. After going over the examples, try making your own sentence using the idiom.
- Grocery store coupons are a dime a dozen; You can find a bunch of them in the mailbox.
- In Korea, coffee shops are a dime a dozen. There are so many of them everywhere!
- Professor Kim is relaly generous with grading, so A+ is a dime a dozen in her class.
- I have so many black clothes in my closet. They are a dime a dozen.
Other English Idioms, Expressions, Vocabulary
Check out other commonly used English expressions and words to improve your vocabulary!
FAQs About A Dime a Dozen Idiom
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about the English idiom a dime a dozen.
What does the saying a dime a dozen mean?
A dime a dozen means that something doesn’t have a lot of value or it is very common and easy to get. For example, antique bowls and cups are a dime a dozen at garage sales. Why? Because there is a lot of them and they are all really cheap!
Is a dime a dozen an insult?
A dime a dozen is used in a negative way. If you say it to a person, it can be an insult. For example, if you say something like, “girls like Jen are a dime a dozen,” Jen could feel insulted. It means that there are a lot of girls like her, and there is nothing special about her.
Where does the term a dime a dozen come from?
The term a dime a dozen was first seen in the 1800s in the US when many grocery items cost 10 cents for a dozen (12).
What is 10 cents called in Canada?
A dime is equal to 10 cents in Canada and the US.
A Dime a dozen Meaning: Join the Conversation
What are your thoughts on this English expression a dime a dozen? Did you already know this idiom, or did you learn something new? If there is an expression or idiom that you want to learn about, let us know in the comments! We’d love to hear from you and want to help you learn English!