bet a dollar to a doughnut

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Alternative forms




Possibly adapted from "bet dollars to buttons" and "bet dollars to dumplings" that appeared in the 1880s, meaning "to feel almost certain" because the dollars are bet against something nearly worthless and perhaps shaped like a zero.[1]



bet a dollar to a doughnut (third-person singular simple present bets a dollar to a doughnut, present participle betting a dollar to a doughnut, simple past and past participle bet a dollar to a doughnut)

  1. (figurative, mildly humorous) To declare with confidence.
    • 1911, Peter B. Kyne, chapter 19, in Captain Scraggs:
      I bet a dollar to a doughnut that fellow Lopez sold us out.
    • 1917, Walter Alleyne Ireland, Beating 'em to it: Or, The Sultan and the Sausages:
      There's places where a dago-dazzler doesn't cut much ice, but it was dollars to doughnuts that the Sultan'd have a kindly feeling for it when I had Mungo explain that it was from the President of the U. S. A., telling him to treat his Uncle Phineas good and white, and he'd do the same by him some day.
    • 1932, Delos W. Lovelace, King Kong, published 1965, page 119:
      ‘Even if Kong follows, he has to travel overland, and it’s dollars to doughnuts we beat him.’
    • 1988 April 25, John F. Burns, “Canada Losing Patience With U.S. on Acid Rain”, in New York Times, retrieved 25 April 2015:
      [S]aying that environmental concerns are a major factor . . . Mr. Mulroney said "you can bet a dollar to a doughnut" that acid rain would feature in the campaign.
    • 2010 September 13, Red Shannon, “The Greatest Athlete Who Never Was”, in Bleacher Report, retrieved 25 April 2015:
      I'll bet a dollar to a doughnut Usain Bolt is not the fastest human on the planet.

Usage notes

  • Becoming dated in places where the price of a doughnut now approaches or exceeds one dollar.




  1. ^ Listening to America, Stuart Berg Flexner (Simon & Schuster, New York, 1982).