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12 idioms about money [infographic]

  • January 23, 2012
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Like music and literature, money has an effect on the changing nature of the English language; the “almighty dollar” has inspired many interesting phrases and idioms.

What are Idioms?
In English, an idiom is a broadly-used phrase with a meaning that may differ quite radically from the actual literal wording. The phrase “time flies” expresses the quickness of time rather than suggesting that it buzzes around your head like a bee.


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A person who behaves in a miserly fashion and is stingy with money.

“Our boss never gives us a Christmas bonus; he is a bigger cheapskate than Ebenezer Scrooge.”
“Phyllis left the waitress a twenty dollar tip and would never be accused of being a cheapskate.”

Cold Hard Cash
Physical currency as opposed to checks, credit cards, and so forth.

“I don’t have a card, so I paid for everything in cold hard cash.”

Cheap pricing, though not necessarily positive.

“The engine lasted only two more weeks after that cut-rate mechanic worked on it.”

Dime a Dozen
Very common.

“Cut-rate auto dealerships are a dime a dozen since the economy started going bad.”

Dutch Treat
Both persons pay their own way, also known as “going Dutch”.

“Bob took Mary to a movie, but she insisted that they go Dutch.”
“The group of friends met for a Dutch treat at a nearby restaurant.”

To Feel Like a Million Bucks (or Dollars)
To feel terrific. To “look like a million bucks” means that someone looks great.

“Mary had been sick, but she now felt like a million bucks.”
“If you’re going out to put in job applications, make sure you look like a million dollars.”

To Go Broke
To lose all of one’s money.

“Do a lot of research before starting a business or you will go broke in the first year.”

To Grease Your Palm
To bribe or give a tip.

“When I greased the waitress’ palm, she gave us a nice seat by a window.”

Hit the Jackpot
To suddenly make a lot of money, but it can also be used to indicate other successes.

“Ted played the lottery and hit the jackpot.”
“I was looking for a few pencils and hit the jackpot when I found a box of thirty.”

In the Red
This indicates a situation that is not making a profit.

“The company closed after running in the red for over a year.”

To Make a Bundle
To make a large amount of money.

“Gertrude retired after making a bundle from her invention.”

Penny for your Thoughts
To ask someone what they are thinking about, often used when a person appears to be lost in thought.

“She noticed her friend’s silence and said, ‘Penny for your thoughts?'”

There are plenty of other idioms that are related to money, and some of them are quite common. Can you think of any?

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