Last Updated on October 21, 2022 by GMC
“A penny for your thoughts” is an idiom used to ask what someone is thinking about. It was first coined by St. Thomas More (1478-1535) in his book, Four Last Things:
“As it often happeth that the very face sheweth the mind walking a pilgrimage, in such wise that, not without some note and reproach of such vagrant mind, other folk suddenly say to them, ‘A penny for your thought.’”
In other words, a person’s face suddenly grows pensive, prompting others to draw out their thoughts in exchange for a penny.