[Ads-l] "dime a dozen" (1916)

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Sat Mar 9 22:12:59 UTC 2019

The OED2 entry for "dime" has "a dime a dozen" = 'so plentiful as to be
almost worthless' and the attrib. phrase "dime-a-dozen" from 1930.
Newspaper databases reveal that Thomas A. "Tad" Dorgan was using "dime a
dozen" as early as 1919 in his syndicated columns, typically in reference
to boxers. Googling for Dorgan and the phrase uncovers a cartoon that he
made in 1916, which went up for auction in 2006:

1916 Charlie Chaplin by Tad
A classic "Tad", as in Tad Dorgan. Shows the "Little Tramp" along with
Tad's editor, Harry Smith. It's part of the "Outdoor Sports" series drawn
by Tad while all were on tour in California. Inscribed to Mr. Smith, "To my
old pal Harry Smith From Tad - 16-" Shows some "dime a dozen cowboys"
wandering by as Charlie and Harry pose for Tad.

Direct link to image:


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list