the penny drops

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the penny drops

One finally understands, realizes, or recognizes something. Typically used in the past tense. When Liam drew the diagram, the penny dropped, and everything became clear to me.
See also: drop, penny
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

the penny drops

mainly BRITISH
COMMON If the penny drops, someone finally understands or realizes something. In the end the penny dropped. That was why she sent us back. It's only recently the penny's begun to drop that, actually, the new job is probably better than the other one. Note: This expression probably refers to slot machines (= machines for playing games), which only operate when you put in a coin.
See also: drop, penny
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

the penny drops

someone finally realizes or understands something. informal, chiefly British
The image here is of the operation of a coin-operated slot machine.
See also: drop, penny
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

the ˌpenny ˈdrops

(informal, especially British English) suddenly understand the meaning or significance of something: She never understands jokes. It usually takes about half an hour for the penny to drop.There was a long silence on the stage, and then the penny finally dropped — it was my turn to speak.
This is a comparison with the way a machine starts after a coin is inserted.
See also: drop, penny
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
See also:
References in periodicals archive ?
Until, again, the penny dropped. Mr X looked accusingly down at his fidgeting daughter, whose reddening cheeks confirmed his suspicions.
"It took a bit for her to adjust then the penny dropped, winning five of her last eight handicaps.
Then the penny dropped. Stevi Ritchie and Chloe Jasmine from last year's X Factor were on.
Then suddenly the penny dropped and people realised it was post-modern irony at its most effective."
Then the penny dropped. "Yes" I replied, "You're a descendant of Saint Catherine of Siena!" He smiled, nodded and answered, "Yes, you're right!" It's a small world!
Dalglish smelt a rat before the penny dropped - Wick was in fact USA Ryder Cup star Brad Faxon.
"But it wasn't until I saw the 'fingers' on its wings, and its white wing markings, that the penny dropped.
'Heirloom': A penny dropped / a hundred years ago / turns up beneath / our sweetheart cabbage // but Love, we are still / out for spring roots, / honeyed wets / and their vanished tracks.
"The penny dropped in the final furlong and he just took off.
Before the penny dropped, Teresa was on the floor with a bullet wound as the boyfriend-from-hell was gunned down.
He looked green enough when slow to start but plenty of credit is due to the way he made up lost ground before powering clear in the final furlong once the penny dropped.
The penny dropped a few years ago for a number of reasons.
But Andrew Smith, prosecuting, said: 'The penny dropped when he drove off and then the police arrived.'
The red thread that runs through all is "coming to believe." In the preceding, Easter, account (20:1-18) we are told of two cases where "the light went on and the penny dropped": the beloved disciple, upon seeing the empty grave wrappings (but before understanding the testimony of the Scriptures), in v.