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A DAY LATE AND A DOLLAR SHORT is another way to say too little, too late. It means that the action taken was taken late and is completely inadequate to the task of salvaging a situation as being ill-prepared. 

"Help arrived a day late and a dollar short."

A student who is supposed to submit a 10-page paper in an 11 o'clock class on April 30 but who turns in 9 pages to the professor in his office at 4 p.m. is a day late and a dollar short.

"The team was a day late and a dollar short again, coming up on the wrong end of another slugfest."

If you try to repair your relationship with your gf after forgetting her birthday, she might view your efforts as a day late and a dollar short. If a guy likes a girl and then another one asks her out before him, she might say to the first guy,

"Sorry, day late and a dollar short." 

People who are accused of being a day late and a dollar short are seen as disorganized and careless with poor time management skills that inconveniences everyone else affected by such behavior.

"You seem to show up a day late and a dollar short all the time. Get sorted."

When a person is a day late and a dollar short, they have not only missed an opportunity due to tardiness, but also because they have not put forth enough effort. Too late and too feeble to achieve the desired effect. 

"His apology was a day late and a dollar short."

If the opportunity had been snagged, it would have been to no avail as there was inadequate preparations made that would have resulted in a favorable outcome. 

"The American Airlines' announcement sounds a day late and a dollar short — or more precisely, a month late and 10 routes short of Delta’s offer." 

This American idiom has been in use for many decades, the oldest known use of the phrase in print was in 1939. 

"Always a day late and a dollar short, it looks like the Carolina Hurricanes are finally finding a rhythm." 

The idiom had most certainly been in common use before this, and probably has its roots in the general poverty common among most American citizens during the Great Depression. 

"The services of government seems to be a day late and a dollar short of the needs and demands of the public."


Originally, the phrase most probably referred to not having enough money to avail oneself of something. 

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