No Dice – Meaning, Origin and Usage

Are you listening to someone pitch you a proposal, and you know it’s a terrible idea? When they finish and ask you for funding, you could tell them “no dice.” By saying no dice, you’re telling the person that there is no way they can source the funding from you.

No Dice Meaning

If you say “no dice” to someone, you usually deny their request for something you control. For example, your son could be asking you for the car to go on a date. The saying could refuse a proposition or a request, and it suits social and some professional situations.

If you think a person’s plans are impossible, you could tell them that there is “no dice” with them getting their proposal approved. No dice essentially means “no chance,” and it’s a popular phrase among the boomer and Gen X generations.

However, many new generations find the saying outdated, even if they understand what it means. “No dice” is a finality in conversation and is usually said to close a statement.

No Dice Example Usage

“I asked dad if I could use the car, and he said, “no dice.” What does that even mean?”

“Boss, can I get an extra ten minutes on my lunch break?” “Sorry Jim, no dice.”

“The kids wanted to stay up past their bedtime, but I told them no dice.”

“George wanted my help plunging out the toilet, but I told him no dice.”

“Kim told me she needed to borrow $50 today, but I told her no dice.”

No Dice Origin

This phrase originates in America, and it has its highest use among the US population. It’s a phrase popular in the Boomer and Gen X generations, but not so much with millennials and zoomers. The term appeared in the English language in the early 20th century, and it came to prominence in the 20s and 30s.

At the time, dice gambling was illegal, and players would go to tremendous lengths to hide the dice from the police when they would arrive at venues to shut down the games. The court would often throw out the prosecution’s case if they didn’t present the dice as evidence during the trial. In many cases, the gamblers would swallow the dice to avoid arrest.

The Port Arthur Daily News, a Texas newspaper, reported the following in April 1921.

It’s ‘no dice’ when the bones can’t be found, according to a local court decision. Six white men arrested Tuesday by Officer W D Moore and charged with gaming with dice.

‘Did you see them shooting dice?’ queried the city attorney.

‘No, I did not see the dice.’ said the officer.”

The courts acquitted the men in question, and that’s likely the source of the idiom. Today, people still use the phrase, and it gained some popularity in culture in the 70s and 80s, but it’s more of an outdated term today.

Phrases Similar to No Dice

  • No chance.
  • When hell freezes over.
  • Forget about it.
  • No way.

Phrases Opposite to No Dice

  • Sure.
  • No problem.
  • I’ll take care of it.

What is the Correct Saying?

  • No dice.

Ways People May Say No Dice Incorrectly

You can use “no dice” in both professional and social settings. However, there’s a limit to professional use. While managers could say it to employees when denying a request, saying it in the boardroom wouldn’t be appropriate. Kids wouldn’t say it to their parents as it may come off as disrespectful to the adult.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase No Dice

You can use “no dice” when talking to friends and when talking to your kids. It’s a quick way of telling people they have no chance of getting their request from you.

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