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It seems to me that these two expressions are mostly equivalent, would you agree?

Reference:

  1. For what it's worth
  2. My two cents
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2 Answers 2

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Reviewing these phrases:

  • My two cents

usually means an unsolicited opinion, may mean either 1) something of little value offered humbly or else 2) something of at least a bit more value than a typical opinion.

  • For what it's worth

does not indicate an unsolicited opinion, but may mean either 1) something of undetermined value (American) or else 2) something of little value offered humbly (British)

Details follow: http://www.snopes.com/language/phrases/twocents.asp suggests that "two cents worth" is a way of saying "not worth a lot":

But why do we say “Here’s my two cents on the matter” instead of “Here’s what I think”? Why do we need to couch such an addition to a conversation in linguistic smoke?

We do so in an effort to lessen the impact of a social trespass. By identifying one’s take on a matter as being worth no more than a pittance, some of the social crime of butting in unasked is undone — the analysis or advice is offered in a self-deprecatory “Well, this likely isn’t worth all that much, but here it is anyway” fashion. The one who couldn’t keep his thoughts to himself, while still inserting himself presumptuously into something that wasn’t his business, is at least being humble about it.

However, using Random House Dictionary I also came up with a slightly different take on what "two cents worth" could mean:

Two Cents Idioms - two cents worth, an opinion, usually unsolicited and unwelcome: http://www.dictionary.com/browse/two-cents

I saw from various sources, though none worth quoting, some speculation that "two cents worth" may be a take on "penny for your thoughts?" If someone wants your opinion, he may ask for it for a penny, but if someone doesn't ask for your opinion, you may offer it unsolicited as long as its value is more than a penny. So, you haven't asked for my opinion, but you probably thought it was only worth a penny - this advice is worth two pennies so I'm offering it anyway.

So, "two cents worth" is a usually unsolicited opinion that either, under one possible meaning, is humbly put forth as not worth a lot, or else, under another possible meaning, might indicate that it is at least worth more than the typical opinion - one of these two.

In contrast, "for what it's worth" doesn't carry any connotation of being unsolicited, and its value is not low nor high but undetermined (especially in American English). A similarity to the first possible meaning of "two cents worth", though, is the British English meaning of this phrase is a humble way of giving an opinion of little value.

Random House Dictionary: http://www.dictionary.com/browse/for-what-it-s-worth?s=t

Idioms - for what it’s worth, whether or not (what is stated) is useful or important enough to justify:

But Collins English Dictionary has a different take (note Collins is more British English-focused while Random House more American-English focused): https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/for-what-its-worth

for what it's worth phrase If you add for what it's worth to something that you say, you are suggesting that what you are saying or referring to may not be very valuable or helpful, especially because you do not want to appear arrogant.

Note the closely related idiom "all that it's worth" means to get maximum value, but on the other hand "take something for what it's worth" can mean that, while something might be valuable, there is no strong belief that it will end up being worth more than little value:

Per Merriam-Webster Dictionary: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/take%20something%20for%20what%20it%27s%20worth

Definition of take something for what it's worth — used to say that one does not strongly believe that something is true or important

I should also mention that there's a very famous song by Buffalo Springfield titled "For What It's Worth"

There's something happening here
What it is ain't exactly clear
There's a man with a gun over there
Telling me I got to beware

I think it's time we stop, children, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down

I think this is an example of the phrase meaning that what is being said is worth much more than one might initially think, not less.

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  • According to Steven Wright, "If it's a penny for your thoughts and you put in your two cents worth, then someone, somewhere is making a penny."
    – fixer1234
    May 25, 2017 at 19:51
  • lol - yes indeed!
    – Brillig
    May 25, 2017 at 20:21
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Doesn't anyone acknowledge the biblical origins of this phrase? To put one's two cents in is the modern equivalent of the widow offering her two small coins, which are valued by Jesus as being greater than a much larger offering from a rich man. So someone offering the "two cents' worth" is acknowledging that it is a small opinion, likely of little value to some but possibly much greater value to others. Sheesh.

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