I’ll bet my last doughnut

Nicole Wallace said this one on MSNBC the other day.  This is a congruent conflation of  “bet (one’s) bottom (or last) dollar” and “dollars to doughnuts” both meaning something certain to happen.   Sometimes the phrase includes the spelling “donuts”.  The alliterative quality probably induced the mixup.  As for the phrase, “dollars to donuts”,  it was originally ‘dollars-to-buttons’ and ‘dollars-to-dumplings’ appearing in the 1880s.  They were replaced by 1890 with the more popular ‘dollars-to-doughnuts’ (a 1904 variation, ‘dollars-to-cobwebs,’ never became very common, perhaps because it didn’t alliterate).” [From “Listening to America” by Stuart Berg Flexner (Simon and Schuster, New York, 1982).  All meant that one was willing to bet money to something practically worthless, emphasizing how certain you are that you are correct.  A big thanks to Steve Messinger for hearing this one and sending it in!


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