A “Yankee dime” is a quick kiss. The term is often said to be from Texas, and said to derive from the Civil War. “Yankee dime” is cited in print from 1846, and is popular throughout the South—not only in Texas.
“Yankee dime” was similar to other terms used in the 1840s, such as “Quaker nickel” or “Quaker fip.” It means a small token of appreciation.
n. a (perfunctory) kiss.
Editorial Note: This term appears to originate in the South.
1846 Huron Reflector (Norwalk, Ohio) (Jan. 13) p. 3: If you’ll do me this favor in double quick time,/You shall have my best wishes and a Yankee dime.
1900 The Landmark (Statesville, N.C.) (Aug. 28) “A Great Day at Troutman’s” p. 3: When the boys and girls husked corn together and the boys hustled like the very mischief to get the first red ear—wonder why?—and then attended the girls home from these husking bees and night singings, bidding them good-night in the moonlight at the front gate and going home with a bran[d]-new Yankee dime, feeling prouder and more independent than any of the present generation.
1928 Indiana Weekly Messenger (Pa.) (June 7) “Colloquial” p. 6: “Yankee dime” is a slang term used in some sections of the United States, particularly in the South, to denote a kiss, just as “Dutch quarter” is used to mean a hug. In some sections “Quaker nickel” is employed in the same sense as “Yankee Dime.”
2004 Merle Kessler DBMT (San Francisco, California) (Sept. 29) “Yankee Dime”: Yankee Dime This is Texas slang, apparently (I read it in the Lone Star Iconoclast!) for an insincere kiss. President Bush sure knows how to spend those.
A quick, innocent kiss. A peck. A child like term used by/for children in the Southern United States. (More common in countryside-raised, ‘older’ southern families)
My mother had me trained to tell relatives I’d trade them ‘A kiss for a yankee dime’. Afterwards, I would demand a yankee dime, and they would all laugh at my ignorance.
by MadCow Oct 10, 2004
23 February 1902, Galveston (TX) Daily News, pg. 20, col. 3:
I bet a “Yankee dime” she gave you a “lecter.”
A Cowboy Cavalier
by Harriet Clara Morse
Boston, MA: C. M. Clark Publishing Company
“I’ll bet Miss Marian a Yankee dime it won’t rain for a week,” called out Tadpole.
“What’s a Yankee dime?” asked Marian.
“Oh, only some of Tadpole’s nonsense,” answered Tom evasively.
“In plain English, it means a kiss,” interrupted Hugh, who was now riding along beside the carriage.
13 November 1936, Port Arthur (TX) News, “Broadway” by Walter Winchell, pg. 4, col. 1:
In the south a kiss is called a “Yankee dime.”
Dictionary of Word Origins
by Jordan Almond
Secaucus, NJ: Citadel Press
Yankee Dime. Why do we call a kiss a “yankee dime”?
This name for a kiss has its origin in our habit of attributing to other sections of the country such behavior and characteristics as we do not especially approve of. “Yankees” were said to be so thrifty that they would rather pay for something with a kiss than with a “coin.” A kiss is also called a “Quaker fip” (that is, a five cent piece) for the same reason.
Not Looking for a Texas Man
by Lass Small
New York: Harlequin Enterprises, Limited
“Okay, what’s a Yankee dime?” She lifted her eyebrows and supplied the answer, “A kiss.”
This Dog’ll Really Hunt:
An Entertaining and Informative Texas Dictionary
by Wallace O. Chariton
Plano, TX: Republic of Texas Press
Yankee dime: Many use “Yankee dime” to indicate a quick kiss. For others, the term is derogatory to Yankees. As the story goes, following the war for Southern independence, Yankee troops would demand credit from the few remaining Southern stores and then hardly ever pay back as much as a “Yankee dime.” Many Southerners still use phrases like “He ain’t worth a Yankee dime” to describe someone who doesn’t pay his obligations.
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (1) Comments • Friday, September 14, 2007 • Permalink