I’m in a dime and pickle about dime and pickle

It’s an avalanche of Americans. Mike, Steve, Ralph, Angela and Stephan in Oregon, Randall, Kelly and Sierra in California, Timmy in Tennessee, Jan in Cleveland, Leslie in Seattle and Frank in Texas – thanks for signing up to the Daily Email.

Lauren is on work experience with us at the moment and she hails from Florida. Faced with a range of stories to choose from in today’s meeting, she told us ‘I’m in a dime and pickle’. Now in the UK we say ‘I’m in a pickle’, but what’s the dime reference about? Lauren doesn’t know – can you help?

16 Responses to “I’m in a dime and pickle about dime and pickle”

  1. 1 Brett
    January 17, 2008 at 13:48

    Don’t believe I have ever heard anything about a dime… The pickle thing I have heard plenty of though.

    Brett ~ Richmond, Va.

  2. January 17, 2008 at 14:21

    I have heard of “getting nickel and dimed.” meaning somebody or some thing is costing me a lot of money through small unexpected amounts. I have heard of “caught in a pickle.” I have always assumed it was due to the fact that pickles are often stuck in the middle of a sandwich. It is used to say that two different situations are emotionally squeezing you. I myself have been known to get “pickled.” This is a reference to soaking something in alcohol.

    I have never heard the allegory as stated.

  3. 3 Anthony
    January 17, 2008 at 15:45

    Maybe they meant a Diamond Pickle, but I still don’t know what that would mean.

    -Anthony, Los Angeles, California.

  4. 4 rosatkins
    January 17, 2008 at 16:03

    I was born in the USA and am fluent in the American variety of English and have never heard the part about the dime. It’s always been “I’m in a pickle.”

    Rob Briggs
    Montgomery, Texas

  5. 5 rosatkins
    January 17, 2008 at 16:25

    Those Floridians are weird. I’ve never heard “I’m in a dime” in all my days, and I’ve lived both on the US East and West coasts. “I’m in a Pickle” is used quite frequently, but the ‘dime’ thing must be a ‘Southern’ term… it has that southern sound to it.

  6. 6 Anthony
    January 17, 2008 at 16:39

    Ohhhhhhhh, maybe she meant “in a diamond pickle”, like a baseball diamond, and then being in a pickle (like in baseball).

    -Anthony, LA, CA.

  7. January 17, 2008 at 17:48

    Tom Ford, Oregon (email)

    I wonder if that was originally, ” I’m in a diamond pickle”? That would be the picklest of pickles to be in, not just an ordinary pickle. Over the years folks might have misheard it and passed it on as “Dime and”, instead of “diamond”.

    If you’ve ever played the “telephone game” as a child, where you sit in a circle, the first person whispers something into the second persons ear and the second person whispers it into the third persons ear and so passing it around the circle until the first person gets to hear how her message has changed, you’ll understand what I mean. Hey, you might try a quick round of it in your next meeting, it’s a good learning experience in communications, or really, mis-communications.

  8. 8 Joey
    January 17, 2008 at 18:04

    I’ll add my 2 american pennies, some people prefer their cucumbers pickled.


  9. 9 Bryan in San Francisco
    January 17, 2008 at 18:46

    Poor Lauren, she was caught doing what millions do in every language everyday: Mixing up her sayings.

    In California when waiters are very busy, they say they are “in the weeds.”

  10. 10 Captain-In-The-Dock
    January 17, 2008 at 20:03

    Mr. Atkins,

    From “How to Stop Mice” to “Roundabouts are passé” to “I’m in a dime and pickle”. And now it’s raining cats & Americans! What exactly is going on here?

    You talk very fast. That is a sign of high intelligence. You interject very fast. That is a sign that you are (again) intelligent and a good listener too. It would be logical to state that whatever you do or say, it cannot be attributed to being dumb.

    I am as a result becoming very suspicious of these ancillary stories & questions.

    I have multiple personalities and I express them in various ways. All my personalities are safe. Please feel free to confide in me. May be the multiple personalities in yourself are finding ways to express themselves!?

    As for “Lauren is on work experience…”. I wonder who is learning?!

    Is she spinning you like a dime & putting you in a pickle?

    Smart lass! I’d like to meet her. Will you introduce me?

    Captain In-the-Dock, Lost ‘n’ Found in Britain

  11. 11 George
    January 17, 2008 at 22:43

    Etiology of slang-

    1. Dimebox Texas post civil war factory provided modest but stable work and income for seven day a week work at a time when there was a currency supply problem and Texas was in a post civil war economic depression.

    I’m in a dime. I have a stable survival job that puts food on the table, temporary but a blessing.

    I’m in a dime and a pickle. I have a stable job that puts food on the table but I hate it so much I want to quit but cannot.

    2. I’m in a dime. Early oil field investment term referring to having 10,000 invested in a well.
    I’m in a dime and a pickle. I have 10k invested and a. have to come up with the production completion money because we struck oil or b. I have 10k invested and it looks like a duster.

    3. Poker and domino speak for bet of $10 trying to psych the opponents you are reaching for draw to fill an inside straight, etc, holding a good hand.

  12. 12 Eric Kimelton
    January 17, 2008 at 23:14

    OK to end this dispute and to make sure you are not in a dime and pickle anymore, I will clarify what this term means. It is derived from the movie “Anchorman” starring Will Ferrell. It is just a silly slapstick way of saying “in a pickle” or “in between a rock and a hard place.” I believe this phrase just sums up what the classic Oscar Wilde once said, “We have really everything in common with America nowadays except, of course, language.”

    Eric – – Florida

  13. 13 Mol
    January 17, 2008 at 23:41

    I wonder if it could have anything to do with one of my favorite expressions “get off the dime!”

    It means to take action, especially following a time of indecision or delay, which time could be interpreted as a pickle.

    The saying reportedly comes from 1920s dance-halls (10 cents a dance, anyone?) as an expression that meant that the dancers should get dancing. The first time I ever heard it was when my Midwestern, circa 1920s father said of my (not-yet) brother-in-law, “When is Tony going to get off the dime and ask Kathy to marry him!” A pickle indeed.

  14. 14 Rashid Patch
    January 18, 2008 at 19:45

    I suspect that George has it right, as Texas idiom; although I wondered if it might have been “in a brine and a pickle” that got transposed. I don’t have any examples of that to point to, though.

    I’d like to know, George, where can onego to look up etymologies for that kind of slang?

  15. 15 George
    January 21, 2008 at 05:39

    On Texas history and word usage I had a private source.

    Great Aunts, Great Uncles, and Great Grandparents who were all 90’s and 100’s when I was a child.

    You can find out a great deal about the 1860’s listening to people who were born then or shortly there after.

    You can learn a great deal about the 1830 to 1860’s listening to them speak of their own parents.

    This particular phrase above had an origin, in Texas at least, around 1869 1870 if I am correct, and the oil boom usage was later, all of which was regional.

    The earliest was limited to central Texas close enough to Dimebox for the Box to be understood.

    The Oilfield use that I am aware of was the Humble Texas and Goose Creek Texas Oil fields-

    and I assume the Dimebox factory after the civil war was the source of the phrase with a new application that happened to overlay it well.

    Being in a fix to come up with the money for completion of a well once you brought it in was common, my grandfathers on both sides of the family were involved in these oilfields.

    Oil patch men and the Texas slang they used went around the world in the exploration of oil.

    If there other origins and use that predated these, I do not know.

  16. 16 George
    January 21, 2008 at 07:47

    My impression, based on oral history,

    the phrase began and was used in Texas in 1870 from Dimebox, Texas to Austin to the west and Palestine, Texas to the east, with the location, factory (unique at the time) and hours/pay understood. Working in a factory was very foreign to Texans at the time.

    My impression is that at the turn of the century oil boom men who had been present at the factory or recalling the phrase about the factory applied the oilfield terms to use the phrase in a new fashion.

    The same men who worked oilfields played poker and various domino games and gave the same phrase a another meaning and application.

    The phrase was never wide spread from that select population that overlapped these very small groups but they did travel world wide, were outspoken, and others heard the phrase without knowing it’s history or uses.

    If this phrase appeared in film or other reference of “country” slang, consciously or unconsciously, it appears to me, it came to their minds through poke-domino or oil patch uses springing from the first factory of significance in post civil war Texas marking a departure from the agricultural/ranch based employment.

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