Posted by R. Berg on March 20, 2001
In Reply to: "Nickel slick" posted by Patty on March 19, 2001
: : I have the general idea of what it means but am interested in a specific meaning and maybe the origin. Thanks.
: I'll take a stab, since no one else has yet. I have the sense that it relates either to the coin or to nickel plating, which was common before chrome plating. When either a nickel (coin) or something that is nickel-plated are new, they are slick like a chrome-plated surface. It is probably used figuratively to refer to a slick person, some shrewd and slippery rascal. - Patty
That was my guess, too--and "nickel slick" gets a little help from the repetition of sounds, which seems to keep some phrases alive in the lexicon, like "doesn't know s__ from Shinola" or "it takes two to tango."