Stop On A Dime

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Meaning of Idiom 'Stop on a Dime'

To stop on a dime means to stop very quickly or suddenly; to come to a complete and immediate halt. 1,2,3

Usage

Although this expression can refer to anything or anyone, it commonly refers to vehicles.

Examples:

"Always keep some distance between your car and big trucks. They can't just stop on a dime."

"When I shop for a new car, I look for safety features. And, it should stop on a dime!"

"He's been a salesman for 30 years and yet he just stopped on a dime and became a farmer."

"I hate it when people tailgate me. It's not like they can stop on a dime!"

Origin

Used since at least the 1920's.

The dime, or American ten-cent piece, is used here as a metaphor for a small distance. When referring to a motor vehicle, the expression invokes an image of the wheels of the vehicle coming to a halt precisely on a dime, without actually rolling over the dime.

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

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