My two cents

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Two British pennies from 1937. One penny is worth one cent, meaning this image is technically a visualization of this expression.


"My two cents" ("my 2¢") and its longer version "put my two cents in" is an American idiomatic expression,[1] taken from the original English idiom "to put in my two-penny worth" or "my two cents".

Origin[edit]

The earliest reference to an analog of "two cents" appears in the lesson of the widow's mite from both the Gospel of Mark and the Gospel of Luke. In the biblical episode, several wealthy temple patrons donate large sums of money, but an extremely poor widow places just two small coins, i.e. her two cents, into the offering. She finds greater favor with Jesus than do the wealthy patrons, seeing that the widow gave all of her money to the Temple in Jerusalem while the wealthy patrons made little investment, leaving much money for themselves.

Some[who?] believe that the phrase originates in betting card games, such as poker. In these games, one must make a small bet, or ante, before beginning play. Thus, the phrase makes an analogy between entering the game and entering a conversation. However, there is no documentary evidence of this being the origin of the idiom, so it is merely speculation.[citation needed]

It is also said the expression originates from boxing in Nottingham during the 1900s. Jack Jetlamey, a well-known gambler despite the little money he had, was always willing to bet on Jack Johnson, a new hopeful boxer. Jetlamey was known to say "two, two, two my two cents in for Johnson", making the whole audience laugh at every match.[2]

Other likely origins are that "my two pennies worth" is derived from the much older 16th-century English expression, "a penny for your thoughts", possibly a sarcastic response to receiving more opinion than was wanted "I said a penny for your thoughts, but I got two pennies' worth". There is also some belief that the idiom may have its origins in the early cost of postage in England, the "twopenny post", where two pennies was the normal charge of sending a letter containing one's words and thoughts or feelings to someone.[citation needed]

Usage[edit]

The expression is used to preface a tentative statement of one’s opinion. By deprecating the opinion to follow—suggesting its value is only two cents, a very small amount—the user of the phrase, showing politeness and humility, hopes to lessen the impact of a possibly contentious statement.

However, the expression is also sometimes used ironically when expressing a strongly held opinion.

The expression is also sometimes used to preface uncontentious opinions. For example, "If I may put my two cents in, that hat doesn't do you any favors" (a polite way of saying, for example, "that hat is ugly"). Another example would be "My two cents is that you should sell your stock now."

"Two cents" and its variations may also be used in place of the noun "opinion" or the verb phrase "state [subject's] opinion", e.g. "You had to put your two cents in, didn't you?" or "But that’s just my two cents."

This expression is also often used as a supplementary phrase after a statement, e.g. "Just my two cents."

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Brenner, Gail (23 September 2011). One's two cents. Webster's New World American Idioms Handbook. ISBN 9780544188907. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
  2. ^ Jacoby, Oswald (1950). "The Forms of Gambling". The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. 269: 39–45. doi:10.1177/000271625026900107. S2CID 144189175.