copper for a kiss

nemo eve walle

Senior Member
What is meant by "copper for a kiss"?
A scenario happened in soap opera Firefly: A doctor's sister is lunatic, a crew and she sneak into a hospital in order to find out the reason by using a advanced machine, one of the crew dressed like a police and guard by the sister. When the sister is awake, she says "copper for a kiss". Since the sister is lunatic so I don't even sure what she said would make any sense.
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  • gramman

    Senior Member
    Hi nemo

    Copper is another word for penny, the smallest denomination of currency in some English-speaking countries. Pennies were originally made of copper, but now they're mostly zinc because copper is much more expensive.

    A blog post on a Firefly fan forum suggests that copper for a kiss is an allusion to Judas Iscariot's betrayal of Jesus.
    He is infamously known for his kiss and betrayal of Jesus to the hands of the chief Sanhedrin priests in exchange for a payment of thirty pieces of silver coins, after which he subsequently hanged himself out of remorse and guilt. … His name is sometimes used to accuse someone of betrayal. — Wikipedia
    This view seems to be supported by a review of that episode on, a site about fiction on television.
    Serenity … decides to contact the Feds in order to turn them [Simon and River] in for the reward money.
    Here's a script published on It indicates that the line was written as "A copper for a kiss." A penny for your thoughts is an old saying, discussed on The Phrase Finder.

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    nemo eve walle

    Senior Member
    Thank you, I will notice that next time.
    So, what you are saying is 'copper for a kiss' is not any phrase or idiom?

    Sparky Malarky

    English - US
    I would hardly classify Firefly as a soap opera, by the way. It's important to note that Firefly is a science-fiction series, and is set far in the future, and in outer space. It would have been strange to say "a penny for a kiss" because surely the people in the series will not be using the same money we use today.

    Beryl from Northallerton

    Senior Member
    British English
    It's a shame that nemo eve walle didn't tell us that in the first post. We can't be expected to know all about science-fiction series when we spend our days doing this. Thanks for the context.


    Senior Member
    (Maybe if it had been a soap they wouldn't have canceled it...)

    My guess is that it is indeed alluding to Judas' betrayal, and there's a chance it's built on the "penny for your thoughts" phrase. Also, River wasn't exactly always talking very clearly, and in that scene she had just woken up from a drug-induced coma (as the original poster did mention). So no, it's not a set phrase, and I'm not 100% certain what the writer had in mind when he wrote it.


    New Member
    1st..River is psychic, shes always predicting things("FIRE"...just before fire almost burned everyone in the mess hall..on the one where the Serinity was crippled from an explosion) and talking about things way over the other crew members heads...
    2nd ..The line about the kiss for copper is a shot a Judas, the scence rite before she awakes and says this...Jayne had just made final talks on a deal to turn Simon and River in for a reward...
    All this deep thought and discussion..<<-->>...its all rite there on the screen, the writers arent great and deep thinkers ...just very good script writers for a really good, much missed tv show...
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