Jennifer in Andrews, South Carolina, is curious about the term case quarter, meaning “a single 25-cent coin — not two dimes and a nickel and not five nickels.” It’s heard mainly in South Carolina, particularly among African-Americans. The origin of case quarter isn’t clear, although it’s been suggested that it derives from French caisse, meaning “cash.” It’s also been suggested that it derives from slang for a British crown, caser, a coin worth five shillings. Caser, in turn, may have come from a Yiddish term, keser, meaning “crown.” Or it could just be that all of the value of that particular amount of money is “encased” in a single coin. Case is applied to other denominations as well, as in case nickel, case dime, and case dollar, each being a single item.

This is part of a complete episode.

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