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Thread: The penny drops

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    Acriado is offline Newbie
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    Default The penny drops

    When can I use the phrase "the penny drops"?

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    Grumpy is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: The penny drops

    This is a colloquial expression, meaning that someone has suddenly understood something. It is probably derived from the old public telephone machines in Britain, where you put in your money [a penny or two] in the slot to make a call, but the money did not drop into the collecting box until the connection was actually made. So, I might use the phrase as follows, "I could not understand why Marilyn preferred Jim to me. Then I saw him pick her up in his Rolls-Royce, and the penny dropped".
    I'm not a teacher of English, but I have spoken it for (almost) all of my life....

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    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
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    Default Re: The penny drops

    ... but my guess for the origin would be the coin-in-the-slot locks on public lavatories (which used to take a single penny piece - .d, as in .s.d., not p)*. Or maybe coin-operated games, into which the punter dropped a penny and moving shelves shunted previous punters' offerings ever closer to a pay-out. Anyway, coin-operated machines of some kind.

    b

    PS This where the euphemism 'spend a penny' came from.
    Last edited by BobK; 22-Jan-2013 at 14:51. Reason: PS Added

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