Posted by: Author | June 29, 2012

Friday Fact- June 29, 2012- Drop a Dime

In the 1970s, the cost to make a call on a pay phone was a dime. My dad always told me to be sure to have one on me in case I needed to call him to come pick me up from somewhere.

The phrase drop a dime on meant to betray or inform on a cohort. This came from criminal/underworld usage when they would accuse someone of calling the police to rat them out. The pay phone had a slot where the dime would be dropped to make the call. The usage of this phrase began in the 1960s and still carries over today.

I bet ya that a lot of younger folks who only knew pay phones as quarter-eaters have no idea of the origin of this phrase. Imagine in five more years how many won’t even know what a pay phone even is other than their plan payment for their cell service.


  1. My dad always insisted I have a dime for the same reason. Remember the penny loafers. I would keep dimes in them. Good topic for a trip down memory lane.

    • Dad’s are super-dooper, aren’t they? Great idea to put the dimes in the loafers. I had some of those, too but never thought that far ahead. LOL!

      Memory lane indeed. Miss those days sometimes.

  2. Yep. I always carried dimes, then quarters. I actually saw someone USING a pay phone the other day. I was astounded! Oh, and I still tend to check for change when I pass one. lol

    • Almost all the pay phones are gone here now. There’s one left in the state courthouse and none in the federal ones. Sad to see them go. I never was one to check for change, but my sister did.

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