Abboism #40: And Nine
Abboism of the Week: And Nine
And nine – noun
Definition: the nine-tenths of a cent added to all gas prices in the U.S. and some other parts of the world.
Origin: The origin of 9/10′s at the end of gas prices is somewhat murky (See “Abboism Extra” below.), and very few people even consider it in the cost of a gallon of gas. Rest assured, my dad still does.
Can you use it in a sentence?
Me: “Gas is cheaper down here, Dad. I paid $3.05 a gallon back home.”
Dad: “Earlier this week, Mac’s had it for $2.99 and nine. Might as well call it three dollars.”
Abboism Extra: Where did and nine originate? Sources agree that the practice of adding the nine-tenths to gas prices originated in the Depression era after the federal tax on gasoline was raised by half a cent. Of course, a half-cent tax on 20 cents is a much greater fractional increase than on, say, $3.00 per gallon. Still, is it just another case of “the man” sticking it to us?
From its origin, the continuing practice of and nine becomes more ambiguous. Many quickly dismiss the practice as oil company greed, calling it a bait and switch (though that term hardly seems to fit). Some believe it is a government tax, and others chalk it up the the marketing gimmick of pricing just below the “real” price to make it appear like a deal. If that’s the case, though, why take it to the thousandths place? Doesn’t $3.09 accomplish this?
I found a variety of reasonable explanations of the and nine practice here.
Have you ever wondered about the dangling nine on gas prices? What reason have you always contributed to its existence?
Do you know anyone who, like my dad, still includes the and nine when quoting gas prices?
Owning “And Nine“
Supposedly, you have to use a word or phrase three times before you “own it.” Feel free to incorporate Abboisms like like and nine into your own vernacular. Use it three times and it’s yours.Thanks for reading. For the next generation, Al Ainsworth alainsworth.com
Reminder: Family Story Legacy will be moving over to my site at www.alainsworth.com on September 2. Between now and then, as I work on that site, you can find my postings on both sites.
Abboisms, Vol. 2
Join the Values Storying community, and I’ll give you the first collection of Abboisms (#1-25) free. You’ll get this fun collection of Southern sayings, along with other stories that will inspire, entertain, and challenge you.