What Does Pennies From Heaven Mean?

Pennies from Heaven Meaning

Definition: Unexpected good luck, often financial in nature.

Origin of Pennies from Heaven

This expression became popular when Columbia Pictures released a movie with the name in the year 1936, starring Bing Crosby.

Bing Crosby was one of the most popular singers of the 20th century, and was also a popular actor in the first half of the 20th century. In the movie, Crosby sang a song of the same name. It was popular during the Great Depression.

The phrase doesn’t seem to have originated from the movie, however. There are a few print sources from the late 20s that use the expression.

Examples of Pennies from Heaven

pennies from heaven movie The first dialogue shows a brother and sister discussing how to pay the rent.

Luke: Ella, I’m really sorry, but I didn’t make enough money at work this month to pay my half of the rent. I know you don’t have any money in savings either, and that you can’t afford to cover my half. I don’t know what we’re going to do. If we’re late with our rent again, our landlord is definitely going to kick us out.

Ella: Don’t worry. I’ve got some great news!

Luke: What is it? Did you get a raise?

Ella: No, it’s nothing that will help us long term, but I found a hundred dollar bill blowing in the wind yesterday! That will give us just enough to pay the rent.

Luke: Wow! Those pennies from heaven came at just the right time!

pennies from heaven song The second example shows two friends opening their mail.

Ray: Hey, Ricardo. Thanks for inviting me over. I brought your mail in for you, since I passed it on my way in.

Ricardo: Oh, thanks. Let’s see what I’ve got. Hm…bills, bills, bills…What’s this?

Ray: That’s a fancy envelope.

Ricardo: Wow! It’s filled with cash!

Ray: Who is it from?

Ricardo: I’m not sure. There’s no letter, and no signature. I’m certainly not expecting money from anyone.

Ray: Well, I wouldn’t complain about some pennies from heaven. Don’t ask too many questions. Just keep it and enjoy it!

More Examples

This article excerpt is about unexpected good luck in the form of a talented athlete suddenly arriving at a school.

  • Barton originally went to Louisville, “a great experience, field hockey-wise,” she says. But she wasn’t satisfied spiritually. She transferred to Messiah before coach Jan Trapp knew Barton was coming. Trapp calls such players “pennies from heaven.” –USA Today

This example is about how movies helped people get through the Depression.

  • The public also loved comedies about the very rich. Everyone could feel superior to their silliness, the weightlessness of their lives, yet live vicariously through their energy, irresponsibility and freedom, the snap of their delicious dialogue. Meanwhile, musical standards created a seductive dreamland, somewhere “over the rainbow,” a better world where cloudy skies and rainy days somehow promised “pennies from heaven.” –LA Times

Summary

The idiom pennies from heaven is an expression that people use to describe unanticipated gifts of money, or other surprises bringing good luck.