Michael Chugani 褚簡寧 - “nickel-and-dime”|又中又英

In my previous column I explained the meaning of a dime, a 10-cent coin in the US. I also explained several expressions using the word “dime”. There are quite a lot of American expressions that use the word “dime”. Today I will explain a few more. A common one is “a dime a dozen”. It is used to describe something so common or plentiful that it is not worth much. Facemasks were so hard to buy during the global coronavirus pandemic in 2020 that people were willing to pay top dollar (a lot of money) for them. Shops that had facemasks were charging top dollar. Facemasks are now easy to buy and cheaper than in 2020. You can say facemasks are now a dime a dozen.

Another expression is nickel-and-dimed. A nickel, as I explained in my previous column, is an American five-cent coin. The expression “nickel-and-dimed” can be used in several ways. If your bank charges you many different types of small fees that add up to a large amount of money, you are being nickel-and-dimed by your bank. If someone annoys you with many minor criticisms you can say you are being nickel-and-dimed by that person. The expression “nickel-and-dime” can also mean of little importance. If your boss gives you less than a one percent pay raise even though your hard work increased your company’s profits you can say your boss gave you a nickel-and-dime pay raise.

A dime store is a shop that sells things at 10-cents. The US had dime stores decades ago but, of course, there are no more dime stores nowadays. There are dollar stores in the US nowadays. These shops sell many different things at low prices but most things cost more than one dollar. They are similar to the $10 stores in Hong Kong. I sometimes go to the dollar stores in Manhattan to buy things like envelopes. They also sell things like canned food but I never buy them because the use-by date may have expired.

  在上一篇文章中我解釋過dime的意思,就是美國的一角硬幣。我也解釋了幾個用到“dime”一字的習語。其實還有好些美式習語都會用到“dime”,今天我再說明多幾個。其中一個常見的是“a dime a dozen”,它是用來形容某事物隨處可見,多得不值錢了。二○二○年全球新冠病毒疫情爆發初期,口罩是一個難求,人們願意花大錢(top dollar)去買口罩。那些賣口罩的商戶亦是以高價(top dollar)發售。現在,口罩很易就可買得到,相比二○二○年便宜得多了。你便可以說口罩現在是 a dime a dozen,到處都是,已變得不稀罕了。

另一個習語是 nickel-and-dimed。正如我在上一篇文章中解釋過,a nickel就是一個美國的五美分硬幣。習語“nickel-and-dimed”可以有幾種用法。若你銀行向你收取林林總總的小額費用,加起來是一大筆錢,你就是被你的銀行nickel-and-dimed——一點一滴地榨取。若某人在許多雞毛蒜皮的事上挑剔你,令你不勝其煩,你也可以說你被那人nickel-and-dimed。習語“nickel-and-dime”亦可以指微不足道的。若你勤奮工作,替公司增加利潤,老闆給你加人工的幅度卻不足百分之一,你便可以說你老闆給了你一個微乎其微、nickel-and-dime的加薪。

A dime store就是全店貨物都以一角的價錢發售。美國幾十年前有一角商店(dime stores),但今時今日當然再也沒有一角店(dime stores)了。美國現在則有 dollar stores,這些商店許多貨品都用低廉的價錢發售,但大部分商品價錢都高於一元。它們就跟香港的十元店相似。我在曼哈頓有時也會去那些一元店(dollar stores),買信封一類的物件。他們也賣罐頭食物,但我從來未在那兒買過,因為可能都是已經過了食用日期的。中譯:七刻
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Michael Chugani 褚簡寧