Asked by Beth on Facebook.
U.S. coins list the amount on the reverse side of the coin. For example, a penny says “one cent” on the back and a nickel says “five cents.” But why does the dime says “one dime” instead of “ten cents”?
According to the U.S. Mint, the inscription “one dime” first appeared on the coin in 1837. The word dime is based on the Latin word “decimus,” meaning “one tenth.” The French used the word “disme” (pronounced the same as it is today) when they came up with the idea of money divided into ten parts in the 1500s.
Before the introduction of the nickel (5-cent coin), the U.S. actually had a half dime coin, with the words “half dime” inscribed on it. We checked with the U.S. Mint and they think that the use of “one dime” could have simply been a common inscription between the two coins.
Designs chosen for U.S. circulating coins are generally mandated by Congress and the law specifies that certain words and images must appear. Learn more about what’s required and the process for changing the design of a coin.
We welcome your comments if you are 13 or older, and hope that our conversations here will be polite. You are responsible for the content of your comments.
We do not discriminate against any views, but may delete any of the following:
- violent, obscene, profane, hateful, or racist comments
- comments that threaten or harm the reputation of any person or organization
- advertisements or solicitations of any kind
- comments that suggest or encourage illegal activity
- multiple off-topic posts or repetitive posts that are copied and pasted
- personal information including, but not limited to, e-mail addresses, telephone numbers, mailing addresses, or identification numbers
In short: be nice and add to the discussion. If you continually violate this policy, we may limit your ability to comment in the future. If you have any questions or comments about this policy, please e-mail us.