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What Does 'A Bad Penny Always Turns Up' Mean? And How to Use It Correctly In a Sentence


The 'a bad penny always turns up' aphorism or proverb is used to refer to someone or something that is unwanted or unpleasant that keeps appearing at intervals.

In most sentences that it is used, it shows the negative characteristics of the subject being referred to.

Sometimes, it is simply shortened to just 'a bad penny'. For example, the military used to refer to aircraft as "a bad penny".

A Bad Penny Always Turns Up Origin

This is one of the ancient proberbs that is connected with money. It was probably formed during the time that the usage of coins was in vogue.

 When a coin is said to be bad in those days, it meant that the coin's quality is questionable. It could either be that the coin has been ripped so bad or that it is completely fake.

Around the 14th century, it's usage in daily language and conversation of the people must have been common. The reason for this is it's appearance in Pier's Plowman (a prose) written by William Langland.

This proverb continued to be used even up till today. It had even found its way into some of our pop culture like in the movie titled Indiana Jones. The excerpt is below:

    Elsa Schneider: I never expected to see you again.
    Indiana Jones: I'm like a bad penny. I always turn up.

How to Use it Correctly in a Sentence

Add It With Ease to Your Sentences: If you have been around the academic block for a relatively long time, you must have noticed that there is always that person who wants to sound smarter than the teacher.
Most times than not, they put big words or never before heard proverbs that seem completely out of place.

Well, you shouldn't be that person. In order to use this proverb correctly and naturally, you must be aware and mindful of what you want to say. This will enable you to get the right gut feeling of where it should be.

Example:

1. Don't worry, a bad penny will always turn up.
2. Seeing you here just proved once more that a bad penny will always turn up.
3. He might ruin everything for us, he is such a bad penny.
Notice that in the last example, I used the shortened form of the idiom.

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