The penny is the lowest valued unit of U.S. currency, one cent, equalling one one-hundredth of the U.S. dollar. It is also the subject of many idioms and phrases, some memorable songs, and a long-standing debate about its future. Some hate it, many ignore it, but the penny is as much a part of American culture as the flag itself.

The Penny’s History

The name penny  comes to us from the Old English word pening and the Germanic word Pfenning. There are other, similar Scandinavian words, all terms for a coin. The plural of penny is pence in Great Britain and pennies in the U.S.

The original penny, minted in 1787, was made of 100% copper. In fact, legendary patriot and blacksmith Paul Revere supplied some of the copper for the first pennies. It was called the Fugio cent, from the Latin inscription on the coin which translated to, “I fly.” The other side of the coin depicted 13 rings, representing the original 13 colonies, and the phrase, “We are one.” It was larger than the coins of today.

After a brief couple of years when the newly minted coins featured an eagle in flight, a Native American princess in full headdress adorned the penny for several decades. Then, in 1909, on what would have been his 100th birthday, the Abraham Lincoln penny was introduced. The reverse side contained the phrase, “In God We Trust.” It was the size we know today. 50 years later, the back of the coin was changed to depict the Lincoln Memorial. And, 50 years on, the back of the coin was altered again, this time engraved with a shield of 13 stripes – returning the design back to a tribute to the first 13 U.S. colonies.

The Controversy

Copper has become a very pricy metal. The coin is now almost all zinc, with a thin copper plating to maintain the color. Nevertheless, it currently costs nearly 2 cents to mint every penny, making it more than it is worth. This is the principal reason behind the call for the elimination of the coin.

The next highest denomination coin, however, is the nickel, or the 5 cent coin. The nickel costs 7.29 cents to mint, even more of a loss leader than the penny! The government loses millions of dollars each year keeping these coins in circulation. An estimated half a trillion coins, mostly pennies, have been minted over the last 30 years, yet only about 3 billion coins are in circulation. This means that the overwhelming majority of pennies in the U.S. just vanished – mostly thrown away because of their lack of value.1

Still, although many complain about the penny, there is no serious plan to eliminate its use altogether.

Penny Idioms

With the penny being such an important part of our history, it stands to reason that we have many phrases in English about the lowly penny. Here are some of the best known.

  • A bad penny always turns up – Said when something or someone, unwelcome returns. It refers to a counterfeit (or fake) penny always finding its way back into your pocket.
  • A penny for your thoughts – This expression is used when you find someone lost in thought.
  • In for a penny, in for a pound – A curious phrase that means if you decide on a course of action then you should give it your best effort. In England, 100 pence is equal to 1 pound British sterling.
  • The penny drops – A sudden realization of something that you had been wondering about. It refers to the old slot machines that operated only when a coin was inserted.
  • Worth a pretty penny – If something costs a lot of money, we say that it is worth a pretty penny. It may be a reference to rare old coins being valuable to collectors.
  • Pennies from heaven – This is said when something of value suddenly comes your way. It was a popular phrase during The Great Depression of the 1930s. It also inspired two famous movies, one with Bing Crosby and another with Steve Martin.

What do you think? Should we keep the penny?

In 2021, the world is increasingly a global community. 13.5% (just under 43 million) of Americans speak Spanish as their first language. And, 16% (just under 53 million) of Americans speak a dialect of Chinese. Finally, with the transition of the traditional workplace to one where employees can work remotely, and clients can be across the world, foreign language learning is becoming an increasingly top priority for professionals living in the United States. In this article, we’ve selected the best techniques for learning foreign languages, leaving it up to you to pick which one you prefer.

WHY IS LEARNING A FOREIGN LANGUAGE IMPORTANT?

There is demonstrable evidence that people have an infinite capacity for learning language, especially if the student starts young. Foreign language knowledge also impacts other areas of your life – such as academic achievement at the college level, provides increased employment opportunities and can prevent age-related cognitive disorders and losses.

According to the US Foreign Service Institute:

  • It takes 600-750 class hours (or, 36 weeks) of learning to obtain basic fluency in foreign languages classified in Categories I and II (languages more like English, such as Spanish, French, Italian, German, Dutch, etc.)
  • It takes 1,100 class hours (44 weeks) of foreign language learning to obtain basic fluency in Category III languages (languages with alternative alphabets, or significant cultural differences from English, like Russian, Vietnamese, Finnish, Farsi, etc.)
  • And, it takes a staggering 2,200 hours (88 weeks) for native English speakers to learn basic fluency in a Category IV (languages that are very difficult for native English speakers to grasp, such as Arabic, Japanese, Chinese, and Korean)

Sometimes your position is so crucial that people will need to have someone to turn to in your absence. When that’s the case, it’s often best to keep things professional by telling people when you’ll return and who they can contact in your absence. But, if your situation is a bit less formal, you can also have some fun.

I’ll be out of the office until Monday, 24th July. If your message is urgent, please reach out to the lovely and talented Bob Smith at bob@domain.com.
If you have breaking news to share, contact Big News Journal’s hard-working managing editor, Ashley Jones, at ashley@domain.com.
Just make sure your news is juicy. Ashley has no time for your shenanigans!

If you’re going to a professional conference, odds are good that a lot of the colleagues who email you will be there, too. Conferences are a great place to ramp up your networking efforts, so let people know where they can find you.

Greetings! I’m out of the office 24-28 July attending the Epic Professional Conference. Are you there, too? You’ll find me walking the floors with a Starbuck’s coffee in my hand, comfy kicks on my sore feet, and a bag full of brochures and swag. (I hope someone’s giving away those light-up bouncy balls again this year. I burned mine out.)If you’re at the conference, I’d love to meet up to chat about your email marketing strategies.
Feel free to text me at (+44) 7754 225 889 so we can connect.

If you write, and you publish, then you’ve got content to promote. Why not use your out-of-office message to make anyone who reaches out to you aware of it?

Hello! Thanks for getting in touch. I’m out of the office until 5th August with limited access to email. But never fear! I’ve left you with some helpful
writing tips to read and share.

•             Improve your writing times
•             Give Writing Feedback That’s Constructive, Not Crushing
•             How to improve your writing skills

I look forward to connecting with you when I return.

While you’re away, your email is going to be handled by a bot. Everyone knows it, so you might as well acknowledge it in a fun automated email.

This is Jane’s bot. Jane is indisposed and unable to respond to your email. I’m replying to let you know that she will return to her desk on 1st August. It is her intent to attend to your request promptly at that time. Meanwhile, Jane leaves you with the following message. Please ponder its significance:
“I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords.” —Jane

There’s really never a bad time to collect leads or subscribers. Your out of office email can be a handy tool for lead generation. When someone tries to connect with you, why not tell them how they can stay connected?

Hi, and thanks for writing! I’m out of the office with no access to email until 3rd August. If your request is urgent, you can contact helena@domain.com for assistance. Otherwise, I’ll get back to you as quickly as possible when I return. While you wait, why not subscribe to our fantastic newsletter? You’ll get actionable tips once per week geared toward helping you grow your online business. Join us here.

DO’S AND DON’TS FOR OUT OF OFFICE EMAILS

It’s okay to have some fun with your out-of-office message in most cases, but there are a few simple rules you should always follow to make sure that, ultimately, your message is both useful and professional.

  • Do check your company’s policy on out of office messages. If there’s no firm policy, it might be best to check in with your supervisor and have your message approved in advance.
  • Don’t reveal too much. Strangers, spammers, and maybe even scammers could potentially see your auto-reply. Keep that in mind before you tell all and sundry that your house is vacant.
  • Do know your audience. If you send more formal emails during your working hours, don’t create an informal out of office email for your downtime.
  • Don’t make typos. You don’t want to be blasting out the same spelling mistake or grammar error for a week, do you?
  • Do consider a message rule. If your email client will handle it, consider creating a message rule where your auto-reply goes out only on the second message from the same person. That way, you won’t be oversharing your status with spammers or colleagues who really don’t care that you’re away.