We commonly use the phrase "two dollar word" in our company, but recently I have seen "ten dollar word" and "four dollar word" being used.

Which is the most common one, and therefore which should we use?


2 Answers 2


Without hyphenation ten dollar word is the only of those to come up on a NGRAM.

Having assumed that this was adjusted for inflation, I added hyphens and plotted a fifty-cent word (the way I've known the expression), too.

The resulting NGRAM was less than impressive. But, ten-dollar word seems to be the winner on the NGRAM front.

With that in mind:

I've always heard fifty-cent words.

But, I think the expression stands regardless of the value assigned.

50 cents has a certain throwback charm to the days where a nickel bought you a sandwich, so 50 cents was a small fortune.


ngram for two, four and ten dollar word

The above ngram shows that Google books hasn't any record of "two dollar word" or "four dollar word" and some records of "ten dollar word". (I also searched for "2 dollar word" and "4 dollar word", and got the same result.)

I would say that "ten dollar word" is the most common.

As to which to use, people will get what you mean whichever you say.

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