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The penny drops

Posted by Miri Barak on September 07, 2004

In Reply to: The penny drops posted by James Briggs on September 07, 2004

: : Remembering something that my mother used to do to me as a child, I was wondering why - and then 'the penny dropped'. But then I also wondered how that saying had come about. My googling produced the answer below:

: : A realisation after a period of confusion or misunderstanding.
: : May have originated as a reference to the use of coin (penny) operated slots on the locks or public toilets.

: : Is this likely? Does anyone have any more info? How can the dropping of the penny in the toilet door equate to the realisation of something? (Oh and btw, the scary thing is that I can remember when we did put a penny in the doors of public and large dept store toilets - yikes!!!)

: Another possibility is the 'penny in the slot' peep shows traditionally at seaside holiday resorts in Victorian times. Things like 'What the butler saw'. When the penny dropped here, all was revealed!

It's funny. In Hebrew we say "the token dropped" from the times of public phones, and it has the same meaning: understanding at last.