Stop On A Dime

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. 1Ayto, John. Oxford Dictionary of English Idioms. Oxford: Oxford U, 2010.2Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.3Heacock, Paul. Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2010.

Usage

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

Examples Of Use

“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!”

Stop on a dime idiom meaning

Origin

Used since at least the 1920s.

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.

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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.