Dime a Dozen - Meaning, Origin and Usage

Do you know what it means when people say "a dime a dozen?" Let's say you're looking through a newspaper at the latest deals on cars.

You decide to check out the Toyota Camry, and your friend steps in, telling you that you don't want that vanilla car because they are "a dime a dozen."

This post unpacks the meaning, origin, and use of this idiom in conversation.

Dime a Dozen Idiom Meaning

"A dime a dozen" appears in conversation when you're trying to point out that something is common or uneventful. You could also use the phrase to describe how something is common and doesn't have much value. The term also suits use when you're trying to state that something is worthless or an outdated trend.

For instance, when the UFC first started gaining popularity, MMA fighters were a rare breed, and everyone held them in high regard. Nowadays, the sport's popularity means that MMA fighters are "a dime a dozen" with plenty of leagues and competitors.

"Dime a dozen" can apply to social and professional settings, and you can use the phrase with all generations; even the youngsters will understand what it means.

Dime a Dozen Example Usage

"Why do you think you're indispensable to the company? Employees like you are a dime a dozen."

"Why are you marrying that girl? Women like that here are a dime a dozen."

"That car isn't as unique as you think; I see plenty of them on the road; they are a dime a dozen."

"There are plenty of people that want it if you don't take it; buyers are a dime a dozen."

"There's a Mcdonald's on every corner in this city. They are a dime a dozen."

"If you don't want the job, that's fine; actors in LA are a dime a dozen.

Dime a Dozen Idiom Origin

The first dimes circulated in the US money supply in 1796. While they were worth a lot more back then, the debasement of the US Dollar by the Federal reserve saw the purchasing power of the dime drop in the 200-odd years.

According to experts, the phrase comes from the 1800s, when greengrocers would sell products or items for a "dime a dozen." The newspapers of the era would advertise these specials using the CTA "a dime a dozen."

Eggs, oranges, pears, and peaches were some of the common foods that would sell for a "dime a dozen" back in the day.

However, over time, the use of the phrase changed as the dollar lost value to inflation. Today, we use the term to describe something common because we value the dime as one of the lowest currency instruments, and you can't buy much with it.

Phrases Similar to Dime a Dozen

  • As common as fleas on a dog's back.
  • Vanilla.

Phrases Opposite to Dime a Dozen

  • One in a million.
  • The only shining star in the sky.
  • A true gem.
  • A rare find.

What is the Correct Saying?

  • Dime a dozen.

Ways People May Say Dime a Dozen Incorrectly

Some people may interpret or use the phrase incorrectly, think that it has something to do with monetary value. The expression has nothing to do with the value of objects; it's merely a way to express mediocrity in an object or person.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase Dime a Dozen

You can use "a dime a dozen" in social and professional situations when you're referring to something common or unimpressive. For instance, if you're with a friend and he's talking about buying a new Ford pickup, you could tell him to think about changing his mind because they are a "dime a dozen."

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