A day late and a dollar short is an American idiom that has been in use for many decades. An idiom is a word, group of words or a phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal meaning. We will examine the meaning of the term a day late and a dollar short, where it most probably came from and some examples of its use in sentences.
A day late and a dollar short is another way to say too little too late. When a person is a day late and a dollar short, he has not only missed an opportunity due to tardiness, but also because he has not put forth enough effort. Originally, the phrase a day late and a dollar short most probably referred to not having enough money to avail oneself of something. The oldest known use of the phrase a day late and a dollar short in print was in 1939. The idiom was most certainly in common use before this, and probably has its roots in the general poverty common among most American citizens during the Great Depression. The idiom is very popular in the American South.
All of which kind of makes American Airlines’ announcement sound a day late and a dollar short — or more precisely, a month late and 10 routes short of Delta’s offer. (The Motley Fool)
Always a day late and a dollar short, it looks like the Carolina Hurricanes are finally finding a rhythm. (Canes Country)
Honokaa’s softball team was a day late and a dollar short again Saturday, coming up on the wrong end of another slugfest. (The Hawaii Tribune-Herald)