Drop A Dime (on someone)

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Also: Drop the dime

Meaning of Idiom 'Drop a Dime'

To drop a dime (on someone) means to inform on them or betray them, usually to the police. 1,2

Usage

The expression drop a dime usually refers to informing the police or other investigators about someone's illegal activity, but it is sometimes used for more general, and less serious circumstances, whenever someone informs on another person's infractions.

Examples Of Use

"Mary is such a teacher's pet. She dropped a dime on me for sneaking out while the teacher was away."

"The only way he can avoid a prison sentence is to drop the dime on his former employer."

"I never dropped a dime on Ricardo. We've been best friends since we were kids."

Origin

Used since the 1960's, this idiom comes from underworld crime slang. It originated as an allusion to using a dime (ten-cent coin) in a pay phone to call the police and inform on someone's illegal activity. 1 Dimes, and later higher-denomination coins, when inserted into the coin slot on pay phones, would drop through the coin slot into the coin deposit box inside the phone.

Sources
1. Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.
2. Ayto, John. Oxford Dictionary of English Idioms. Oxford: Oxford U, 2010.

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