Posted by ESC on September 27, 2003
In Reply to: Re: Dimes to doughnuts posted by R. Berg on September 27, 2003
: : I heard this phrase used recently as though the speaker were offering those odds. Couldn't find it at this site, and am hopeful that someone can give me its origin and meaning. Thanks!
: It must be a variant of "dollars to doughnuts," a traditional phrase discussed here before--see archives. Yes, it's about odds, specifically uneven ones, the dollars being worth more than the doughnuts.
DOLLARS TO DOUGHNUTS (or donuts) - "The almost forgotten terms 'dollars-to-buttons' and 'dollars-to-dumplings' appeared in the 1880s, meaning 'almost certain' and usually used in 'I'll bet you dollars-to-buttons/dumplings.' They were replaced by 1890 with the more popular 'dollars-to-doughnuts' (a 1904 variation, 'dollars-to-cobwebs,' never became very common, perhaps because it didn't alliterate)." From "Listening to America" by Stuart Berg Flexner (Simon and Schuster, New York, 1982).