Column 1193 Tue July 12
Hong Kong people who have visited the US will know a dime is a 10-cent coin, a nickel is a five-cent coin, a penny is a one-cent coin, and a quarter is a 25-cent coin because it is one quarter of a dollar. Most advanced economies, including the US, have moved towards becoming cashless societies. A cashless society is a society where most people use credit cards and electronic money transfers to pay for goods and services. The US is, to a large extent, a cashless society but many Americans still use pennies, nickels, and dimes. I once bought a small bag of potato chips in a convenience store and paid with a $5 bill because the cost was 59 cents.
I received several dollar bills and a lot of coins, including pennies, in change. Hong Kong has done away with (stopped using) the 5-cent coin. I think the US should do away with pennies and nickels. Even homeless people don’t want them. This column, however, is not about pennies, nickels, and quarters. It’s about dimes. There are several interesting American expressions using the word “dime” which I will explain. A dime is a small coin, similar in size to a Hong Kong ten-cent coin. To “turn on a dime” is a common American expression. It means to turn or move in a very small space because a dime is very small.
If your car can turn around in a very small space, you can say your car can turn on a dime. Only very small cars can turn on a dime. The other expression is “on someone else’s dime”. This means to do something with someone else’s money. If you go to an expensive steak restaurant with a friend and your friend offers to pay for the whole meal, you can say you had a good steak with wine on your friend’s dime. I love to eat in expensive restaurants on my friends’ dime!