Drop a dime
Ruth Cannon
Can someone tell me the origin of (to) drop a dime (on someone), meaning to rat them out to the police or some other authority?


It's from the US and a couple decades back. A payphone cost 10 per call. To narc' on someone would involve dropping a dime into the phone. Though, the association of the price to the call had been broadened beyond the payphone to residential lines. This shows up in other phrases, too. For example, to treat someone is to do it "on your dime" or in response to, for example, "do you have time for me to tell you something," a common, slang response would be "hey, it's you dime." The popularity of "drop a dime" partly involves the parallel between the description of coin-insertion as "dropping" and the visceral sense of betrayal involved, and partly from the phonotactic rhyming of "dime" to "crime" ("drop a dime on crime").

I don't have specific reference or date for first puplished use.

Frank Pierce
That's the way I see it, AdSumAds. And as a gratuitous observation, one doesn't need to be ancient to remember the common expression "Hey, it's your nickel."
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