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Nickle-and-dime

  • The term nickel-and-dime has been in use since the 1800s, and is an interesting idiom. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. We will examine the definition of nickel-and-dime, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.


     

    Nickel-and-dime has two basic meanings. First, nickel-and-dime is used as an adjective to describe something that is petty, something that is insignificant or something that operates on a small scale. Second, nickel-and-dime may be used as a verb to mean to continually charge someone small amounts of money to satisfy a certain situation. The idea is that the person is paying small, insignificant sums while over the long haul, these expenditures add up to a great deal of money. This is sometimes expressed as being nickel-and-dimed to death. Related words are nickel-and-dimes, nickel-and-dimed, nickel-and-diming, or the alternative renderings of nickels-and-dimes, nickeled-and-dimed, nickeling-and-diming. First used in the late 1800s to mean a small amount of money, nickle-and-dime took on its adjective and verbal definitions in the early 1900s. Note that the Oxford English Dictionary lists that the proper spelling contains two hyphens.

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    Examples

    “Prior to that we were getting a lot of nickel-and-dime hustlers, as I call them, the lower drug dealers.” (The Daily Comet)

    For the rest of us, it’s time we put up with nickel-and-dime fines to ensure that even more recyclables are, indeed, recycled instead of being tossed into the oceans. (The La Crosse Tribune)

    Luxury lines, a growing segment in the cruise industry, like to brag that guests won’t feel nickel-and-dimed during vacation; when passengers meet for a drink or dine with new friends, they never have to be concerned about who pays. (The Miami Herald)


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