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a wooden nickel
A person or thing that only vaguely appears to have any real value, but is ultimately worthless. A nickel is worth five cents, thus already being worth very little. Primarily heard in US. This whole accreditation scheme has as much value as a wooden nickel when it does nothing to get you more work in the field.
a wooden nutmeg
dated A fraudulent substitute or imitation. Primarily heard in US. Anyone selling you designer goods at such low prices is definitely peddling wooden nutmegs. The major tax overhaul congress has been promising is nothing more than a wooden nutmeg—it will benefit no one but a few at the very top, and for everyone else it will remain a convoluted and expensive mess.
accept a wooden nickel
To accept something that proves to be fraudulent or deceitful; to be swindled or conned. Primarily heard in US. I'm done accepting wooden nickels—capricious women who say they love me, then get bored and decide I'm not worth their time. My husband is a wonderful man, but he has about as much business sense as a grade-schooler. If I had let him accept all the wooden nickels offered flaky customers have tried to peddle on us, we'd have gone bankrupt years ago.
don't take any wooden nickels
Take care and, specifically, try not to get swindled. The phrase is thought to have originated in the early 20th century when country residents visiting the city were considered easily duped. Primarily heard in US. Have fun tonight and don't take any wooden nickels!
get the wooden spoon
To finish a contest or competition in last place. (The "wooden spoon" is the hypothetical prize for the person finishing in last place in a competition.) Primarily heard in UK, Australia. I may not have gotten the wooden spoon, but that was still one of the worst tournament performances of my career. Even though his team got the wooden spoon last season, Edwards feels confident that they have as good a chance as any to win the championship this year.
put on a/the wooden overcoat
dated slang To die. ("Wooden overcoat" refers to a coffin.) After he retired, he said he wanted to spend his time and money traveling the world before he put on the wooden overcoat. She'll be putting on a wooden overcoat soon if she doesn't start changing her diet and lifestyle.
take the wooden spoon
To finish a contest or competition in last place. (The "wooden spoon" is an imaginary prize said to be awarded to the competitor in last place.) Primarily heard in UK, Australia. I may not have taken the wooden spoon, but that was still one of the worst tournament performances of my career. Even though his team took the wooden spoon last season, Edwards feels confident that they have as good a chance as any to win the championship this year.
the wooden spoon
The imaginary prize for the person finishing in last place in a competition. Primarily heard in UK, Australia. I don't expect to win, but I sure hope I don't get the wooden spoon!
win the wooden spoon
To finish a contest or competition in last place. (The "wooden spoon" is an imaginary prize said to be awarded to the competitor in last place.) Primarily heard in UK, Australia. Even though his team won the wooden spoon last season, Edwards feels confident that they have as good a chance as any to win the championship this year. I may not have won the wooden spoon, but that was still one of the worst tournament performances of my career.
dated slang A coffin. You're going to end up in a wooden kimono before you're 50 if you don't start improving your diet. Don't worry, boss. We'll put that stool pigeon in a wooden kimono before he ever makes it to court.
An ancient torture device involving a wooden horse, typically used for military punishments. I was so terrified of what my parents would do when they found out I'd failed my exam that I had visions of them making me ride the wooden mare.
dated slang A coffin. You're going to end up in a wooden overcoat before you're 50 if you don't start improving your diet. Don't worry, boss. We'll put that stool pigeon in a wooden overcoat before he ever makes it to court.
slang The person or team that finishes last in a competition. So-named because the imaginary prize for a last-place finish is a wooden spoon. Primarily heard in UK. Of course Roy was the wooden-spoonist in today's race—I didn't know a person could run so slow!
dated slang A coffin. You're going to end up in a wooden suit before you're 50 if you don't start improving your diet. Don't worry, boss. We'll put that stool pigeon in a wooden suit before he ever makes it to court.
A beet-shaped wooden toy that spins on a metal point at the bottom. What are you kids complaining about? When I was your age, I only had a wooden top to play with!
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
a wooden nickelAMERICAN
If you call something a wooden nickel, you mean that it is completely false or has no value. Note: A nickel is a five cent coin and a dime is a ten cent coin. He looked at the card as though it were a wooden nickel. `That doesn't prove a thing,' he said.
the wooden spoonBRITISH
COMMON If you say that someone gets the wooden spoon, you mean that they are the last in a race or competition or are the worst at a particular activity. Cosmos will almost certainly get the wooden-spoon for the second year in a row if they lose. Britain's bureaucrats won the EU's wooden spoon yesterday, as the worst linguists in Brussels. Note: You can use wooden spoon before a noun. After their third defeat, the Hawks have confirmed their place as wooden spoon contenders this season. Note: At one time, the student who got the lowest marks in their final mathematics exam at Cambridge University was given a wooden spoon.
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012
accept a wooden nickelbe fooled or swindled. US
A wooden nickel is a worthless or counterfeit coin.
a wooden nutmega false or fraudulent thing. US
A wooden nutmeg was a piece of wood shaped to resemble a nutmeg and fraudulently sold as the real thing. This deception was particularly associated with the inhabitants of Connecticut, giving rise to the nickname ‘the Nutmeg State’.
win the wooden spoonbe the least successful contestant; win the booby prize.
A wooden spoon was originally presented to the candidate coming last in the Cambridge University mathematical tripos (the final honours examination for a BA degree).
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
don’t take any wooden ˈnickels(American English) used when saying goodbye to somebody to mean ‘be careful’, ‘take care of yourself’: Well, see you around Tom. Don’t take any wooden nickels.
get, win, take, etc. the ˌwooden ˈspoon(British English, informal) come last in a race or competition: England must win this match if they are to avoid taking the wooden spoon.It was a custom at the University of Cambridge to give a wooden spoon to the student of mathematics who had the lowest mark/grade for their year.
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
don't take any wooden nickels
Protect yourself (against fraud, loss, and so on). This warning against counterfeit coins dates from about 1900 and is distinctly American in origin, the nickel being a U.S. or Canadian five-cent coin. Why a wooden coin was selected is not known. Presumably making coins of wood would always have been more expensive than the intrinsic value of metal coins. Several writers suggest it replaced don’t take any wooden nutmegs, a now obsolete saying dating from colonial times when sharp traders sold wooden nutmegs mixed in with the real spice. In print the expression is found in Ring Lardner’s story, The Real Dope (1919), “In the mean wile—until we meet again—don’t take no wood nickles [sic] and don’t get impatient and be a good girlie.”
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
Don't take any wooden nickels
Don't let yourself be cheated. This expression was first heard in the early 20th century. Although there never were any wooden nickels as legal tender, country folk going to a city were likely to be cheated by all manner of ruses, including obviously counterfeit coins. Wooden nickels did exist, however, as bank promotions during and after the Great Depression; the “coins” were redeemable for prizes.
Endangered Phrases by Steven D. Price Copyright © 2011 by Steven D. Price