Date: Fri, 21 Jun 1996 00:28:39 -0400


Subject: Re: To drop a dime on someone

On Thu, 20 Jun 1996, Katherine Catmull wrote:

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.

I like this question. In the materials on criminal argot collected from

criminals I have many instances of the term "drop" being used, but only

one where it means something similar to what I think it means in the

'drop a dime' collocation: "drop a kite." In this case "drop" means

literally to place a note informing on a fellow inmate (it was collected

in prison) into the mailbox. The operative term, however, is 'kite' and

not 'drop.' To drop a dime on somone would mean to give them a ten year

prison sentence (although I have never actually heard anyone say it like

that).My suspicion is that 'drop a dime' as used in K.C.'s question might

be a Hollywood coinage dating back several decades. Or perhaps a


Al Futrell

-- awfutr01[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]


Dept of Communication -- University of Louisville