Famous Sayings #176 — ‘Turn on a Dime’

January 19, 2020

A few months ago, George was living in his car, but after scoring that acting gig, he now has his own apartment. Sometimes life can turn on a dime.

Image by Rattakarn from Pixabay

This is a phrase that is often applied to cars with four-wheel drive, but it can apply to many different situations in life. The operative word is change, but it depends on how things change.

What Does ‘Turn on a Dime’ Mean?

To turn on a dime means “to turn very quickly and with agility.” The phrase “turn on a dime” can refer to a few things:

  • The ability of an automobile to stop, turn, or maneuver in a small space (ON A DIME).
  • How quickly circumstances can change, as in “Life can turn on a dime.” The saying “Life can turn on a dime” means that things can change very rapidly, whether for the better or worse (Various).
  • The propensity of someone to change their position or betray someone (as in “He turned on a dime”). A related term is “turn tail” (“Turn on a dime Synonyms”).
  • An instance where someone suddenly does something completely different from what they were doing before (“definition and meaning”).

The phrase “turning on a dime” conjures up the imagery of a person turning quickly and easily in a small space, as if that person had one foot on a coin. And since a dime is the smaller U.S. coin, that person “turning on a dime” is making a very sharp turn.

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