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The meaning and origin of the expression: Two cents' worth

Two cents' worth

What's the meaning of the phrase 'Two cents worth'?

An individual's opinion.

What's the origin of the phrase 'Two cents worth'?

'My two cents' worth' (or 'two bits' worth') implies that, in order to express and opinion, a small charge is levied. This could well be a simple notional charge and not related to any actual payment. It has been suggested that 'two cents' was the minimum wager required of a new player in order to enter poker games. There's no documentary evidence to support that idea. The US version of the phrase is pre-dated by the British 'two-penneth' and there's little reason to believe 'two cents' worth' to be anything other than a US translation of that. The card-playing origin of the phrase could just as well apply to the British version but, without evidence, that's merely speculation.

The earliest example I can find of the US-variant phrase in print is from the Olean Evening Times, March 1926. That includes an item by Allene Sumner, headed My "Two cents' worth".

Gary Martin - the author of the website.

By Gary Martin

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