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Dollars to Donuts/Buttons/Dumplings/Cobwebs

Posted by ESC on June 14, 2000

In Reply to: Dollars to Donuts/Doughnuts posted by Bob on June 13, 2000

: : Where does this come from?!
: : thanks!
: :

: Can't help with origin, but the meaning is: I'm so confident of my assertion, I'll bet DOLLARS which are measurably valuable TO your DONUTS which are worth much much less, in fact, shaped like zero's, and still feel that the long odds I have given are justified.

DOLLARS TO DOUGHNUTS (or donuts) - "The almost forgotten terms 'dollars-to-buttons' and 'dollars-to-dumplings' appeared in the 1880s, meaning 'almost certain' and usually used in 'I'll bet you dollars-to-buttons/dumplings.' They were replaced by 1890 with the more popular 'dollars-to-doughnuts' (a 1904 variation, 'dollars-to-cobwebs,' never became very common, perhaps because it didn't alliterate)." From Listening to America: An Illustrated History of Words and Phrases from Our Lively and Splendid Past by Stuart Berg Flexner (Simon and Schuster, New York, 1982).