In Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987), as Del Griffith met his close friend, Gus:

Gus: Del Griffith! How the hell are you?

Del Griffith: Well, I'm still a million bucks shy of being a millionaire.

This is a comedy bit, but what's the joke here?


It's a witty way of saying they have no money. Millionaires are people with at least a million dollars. He's saying that he has a million dollars less than a million dollars — so basically . . . nothing.


You need to understand a definition of shy:

  1. (foll by of) informal, mainly US and Canadian
    short (of)".

So he was a million dollars short of a million dollars, meaning he had 0 dollars (he was broke).

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