Date: Thu, 20 Jun 1996 11:26:35 -0400
From: Jesse T Sheidlower jester[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]PANIX.COM
Subject: Re: To drop a dime on someone
Anyone out there with a better reference than I have who can confirm the
origin of this phrase? as in, "the Unabomber's brother dropped a dime on
him." It seems like it must come from dropping a dime into a pay phone to
call, for example, the cops, but if anyone knows for sure I'd be grateful
for the information.
You are correct. The usual use is 'to place a phone call to the police
to inform on someone', and hence broadly 'to inform; betray'. The
phrase is also used to mean simply 'to make a phone call'.
The Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang cites
examples back to the late 1960s.
jester[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]panix.com