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I've seen "$.02", "2¢", "just my two cents", etc, similar in meaning to IMHO, except usually appended to the main text.

As the Ngram shows, it is only "two cents" that is popular in this usage:

show vs shew

How does "two cents" express humility of opinion?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 10 down vote accepted

Urban dictionary has some surprisingly good entries on the topic if you ignore the humour surrounding it:

This phrase draws an analogy to the poker ante (two bits) and gains your entry into the conversation.

The trick is recognising the (I assume) older bits instead of cents.

Also, two-bit still lives on in common usage, meaning "insignificant":

That's my insignificant contribution.

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+1, nice answer! I would not be terribly surprised if this is much closer to actual etymology than wikipedia's suggestions; here's etymology for two-bits: etymonline.com/index.php?term=two+bits –  Unreason Jul 6 '11 at 10:38
    
Thanks. My mother used to say (and probably still does) "my two bob"; bob being a slang term for shilling. This suggests to me that there is (or was) regionalisation of the expression occurring to match the lowest denomination of the local currency. Two shillings seems to have been worth less than two bits though, so my mother was probably under selling her opinions. –  Brendon Jul 6 '11 at 23:21
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Wikipedia has only speculations that it is related to either or both of these sayings:

  • I said a penny for your thoughts, but I got two pennies' worth
  • If you don't put your two cents in, how can you get change?
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Note, though, that at the time "two penneth" came into use, a farthing (an eighth of a penny) was a useful coin and ha'penny would bring cheer to a beggar at Christmas. "A penny for your thoughts" was a substantial bribe, and giving someone two penneth worth would be something the speaker assessed as being of some worth. Two cents doesn't have quite the same ring to it these days. –  bye Jul 5 '11 at 15:04
    
A farthing was worth a quarter of a penny. –  jaybee Jul 6 '11 at 8:15
    
Btw, I always thought it was related to betting: in a sense of, "A: Here is what I think: ... B: How sure are you? How much would you bet on it? A: 2 cents" which then turned around to "Here is my, 2 cents worth, opinion: ..." –  Unreason Jul 6 '11 at 8:29
    
@Stan: it's usually spelt "two penn'orth" and pronounced two penneth. –  TimLymington Jul 20 '11 at 14:59
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IMHO the ironical meaning of this phrase is mostly lost on the internet -- "that's my two cents" nowadays just means "that's my opinion, take it or leave it", whereas it once implied self-deprecation, at least according to the eminently fallible urban dictinary. There are lots of British slang phrases (which seem to be mostly 19th century) that include the amount of two pence as a designator of something cheap or worthless (twopenny-rope, two penn'orth of tripe, tuppeny-ha'penny) so maybe "my $.02" is derived from them. As Stan Rogers says above, 2 pence would have been a fairly substantial amount to many people in Victorian times, so I'm a bit confused about this.

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