Green’s Dictionary of Slang

worth a... phr.

listed below are a number of adv. phrs., used to mean to any degree whatsoever, which differ from the occas. adj. uses which are positive inversions of the usual not worth a...; see also under not worth a...

In phrases

worth a cent (also worth a busted nickel, ...a copper, ...three cents, ...twopence)

(Aus./US) a general negative intensifer, at all, to the least degree, e.g. you ain’t helping your Mom worth a cent (cf. not worth a cent phr.).

[US]S. Smith Major Downing 23: They don’t seem to rip up worth a cent [DA].
[US]Atlanta Constitution 15 Feb. 5/3: As the slang phrase of the present day goes, he didn’t impeach worth a cent.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 31 Jan. 18/4: Dickens could not exaggerate worth a cent.
[US]J. Flynt World of Graft 143: There are reports in this office that don’t help out your reputations worth a cent.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 26 July 36/2: [H]e had tried to haul the member out by the collar, and the collar had bust, and [...] he had tried to shove the member and he wouldn’t shove worth a copper!
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 6 Dec. 13/4: Compared with the Hindoo, the Greek, and the miscellaneous Levantine the Chinaman can’t lie worth 2d., and his persistence in following a business for which he is quite unfitted is lamentable.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 15 Oct. 30/3: He isn’t allowed to correspond worth 2d.
[UK]C. Holme Lonely Plough (1931) 108: It wouldn’t take more than a cent’s worth of shove to set his lordship against the Lugg.
[US]O. Strange Sudden 30: If we had a marshal worth a busted nickel, yu’d be stretchin’ hemp right now.
[US]C.P. Rosenberg in Heller In This Corner (1974) 90: I’m talking 1925, was when life was like three cents, especially around Chicago.
worth a damn (also worth a curse)

at all, to any degree whatsoever (cf. not worth a damn phr.).

[US]R. Waln Hermit in America on Visit to Phila. 2nd Ser. 26: The loser ripped out a volley [...] could’nt play worth a d--n, — and must go home and live on Adam’s ale.
[US]Flynt & Walton Powers That Prey 256: I knew ’t I couldn’t steal worth a damn.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 13 Dec. 27/3: My throat’s that dry and sticky / I can’t swear worth a curse.
[US]D. Hammett ‘Corkscrew’ Story Omnibus (1966) 220: You can’t fight worth a damn!
[US]J. Weidman I Can Get It For You Wholesale 118: They haven’t had a line worth a damn in I don’t know how many years.
[US]J.D. Salinger Catcher in the Rye (1958) 105: When I was in bed I couldn’t pray worth a damn.
[US]L. Hansberry Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window in Three Negro Plays (1969) I ii: I don’t think you’re funny worth a damn!
[US]E. Torres Carlito’s Way 7: I couldn’t sing worth a damn.
[US]P. Cornwell Point of Origin (1999) 191: And to be honest, I don’t like that worth a damn, either.