I watched Seinfeld S09E12 The Reverse Pipehole, there are lines like this:

KRAMER: Newman and I are reversing the peepholes on our door. So you can see in.


NEWMAN: To prevent an ambush.

KRAMER: Yeah, so now I can peek to see if anyone is waiting to jack me with a sock full of pennies.

and this:

JERRY: So, Silvio ambushed Joe Mayo?

ELAINE: Yeah, he was waitin' inside his apartment for him with a sock full of pennies.

JERRY: He should have had a reverse peephole.

What does "a sock full of pennies" means? Is it an idiom or slang? Does it really mean a sock full of pennies?

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    The point of a cosh, of course, is to deliver a powerful blow without a crushing injury (so you can get a knockout without killing the victim). A loose collection of small dense objected in a small sack works fine. I suspect pennies are not as good as shot, but then almost everyone has them around the house, and socks are readily available as well. – dmckee --- ex-moderator kitten Sep 11 '11 at 18:05
  • I can't believe it, would some people really do this instead of grabbing an easy weapon such as a hammer or a bat? – lamwaiman1988 Sep 12 '11 at 1:44
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    It is a classic weapon for muggers. The point is that dead victims bring a strong police response and a harsh sentence if caught, but a cosh tends to leave victims alive which brings less official interest and a more lenient sentence. – dmckee --- ex-moderator kitten Sep 12 '11 at 1:54

"A sock full of pennies", refers to the act of filling a sock full of pennies, to use as a weapon.

Usually, it was filling the sock full of sand, so that it can be used as a sandbag to slug the back of someone's head. Obviously the "sock full of pennies" was being used for a sinister purpose, as Elaine said that the person was "waiting inside his apartment for him".

The "sock full of pennies" was an improvised sandbag in order to have a weapon to inflict damage.

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  • Do you have a source for originally being a sock full of sand? I'd never heard that before. – simchona Sep 11 '11 at 20:08
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    It's an improvised blackjack. Better term than "sandbag". – Phoenix Sep 11 '11 at 20:09
  • @simchona, pardon, it's usually not originally. It's more common to fill your sock with sand then with pennies. This site quotes:A bag (or a sock) filled with sand can make a surprisingly tough weapon. It can be swung with great force, and is useful for attackers and scarier for their victims because it connects with a great impact but doesn't leave a mark. – Thursagen Sep 11 '11 at 20:13
  • Interesting. Sand makes sense; I never thought of it being used in this form. – simchona Sep 11 '11 at 20:22

A sock full of pennies literally means that one takes a long sock, fills it with pennies, and uses it to hit someone by swinging it at them. Other fillers would include other coins or even batteries. In the associated Seinfeld episode, Joe Mayo was literally attacked with this weapon.

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A sock full of pennies (or quarters), when swung by the leg-end would hurt.


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    Use pennies. Quarters are way too expensive. – Mitch Apr 18 '12 at 12:50

Filling a sock with hard objects is a common improvised bludgeoning weapon. Just in the last year, see this (using gravel) and this (using rocks). Also I remember watching one prison movie from the 80's where the "hero" beat up some (expected) assailants with a sock filled with freshly bought (still full) pop cans.

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  • I think that was a pillow case full of soda cans, and I think Sean Penn might have been in it(?) – horatio Apr 18 '12 at 13:52

I tried Googling it, and the only references that came up were to the Seinfeld episode. Furthermore, since I personally have never heard that phrase before, I would assume that it's not an idiom or common slang.

I think the characters are referring to a literal sock full of pennies. After all, getting hit with a sock crammed full of pennies would really hurt. :D

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