In Reply to: The continental posted by Max on November 30, 2009 at 09:50:
: What does "continental" refer to in the phrase ... "couldn't give a continental"?
The second Continental Congress began issuing "Continental money" in 1775, the year before the American Revolution. So much was printed that during the war a continental was almost worthless. "Listening to America" by Stuart Berg Flexner (Simon and Schuster, New York, 1982). Page 181-182. Mr. Flexner doesn't mention the phrase. But it's a pretty good bet that it draws its meaning from the almost worthless currency.