Posted by ESC on April 01, 2001
In Reply to: Bad pennies posted by chris on April 01, 2001
: In a recent conversation, I overheard someone being referred to as a bad penny. what is the true meaning of this phrase and from where did it come?
"BAD PENNY -- The phrase usually is heard in this country (U.S.) as 'A bad penny always turns up,' meaning that a no-good person can be counted upon to come back again and again. The expression was originally English and the unit of currency referred to was the shilling. Sir Walter Scott, in one of his early nineteenth-century novels, whereto: 'Bring back Darsie? Little doubt of that. The bad shilling is sure enough to come back again.'" From "Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins" by William and Mary Morris (HarperCollins, New York, 1977, 1988).