Slang terms for money
Slang terms for money often derive from the appearance and features of banknotes or coins, their values, historical associations or the units of currency concerned. Within a single language community some of the slang terms vary across social, ethnic, economic, and geographic strata, but others have become the dominant way of referring to the currency and are regarded as mainstream, acceptable language (e.g., "buck" for a dollar or similar currency in various nations including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Nigeria and the United States).
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Most Australian bank notes have colloquially assigned nicknames due to their denomination or colour.
A Five Dollar note is known as a Fairy Floss, Fiver, Galah, Skydiver, Pink Lady, Pink Snapper, Prawn, Piglet & Rasher (as in bacon due to reddish pink and white colouration), Stuey Diver in reference to Stuart Diver.
A Ten Dollar note is known as a Blue Swimmer, Blue Tongue, Blue Heeler (name of a cattle dog), Tenner, Pav (this derived from Pavarotti from the Three Tenors- hint: tenners), a Banjo (from the picture of A.B. “Banjo” Paterson thereon) and Ayrton Senna (rhyming slang for tenner). Also known as a Blue Bottle like the Physalia utriculus found on Australian beaches.
A Twenty Dollar note is known as a Red Lobster or just Lobster, Crayfish, Rockmelon, Redback & Rusky (all terms pertaining to the red colouration of the note and that of the Soviet flag).
A Fifty Dollar note is known as a Pineapple, McGarrett (after the lead character from T.V’s Hawaii 5-0 series / Book ‘em Danno), Yellow Peril and Banana.
An original paper One Hundred Dollar note is known as a Grey Nurse (after the shark), Ghost & Bradman ( referring to Donald Bradman’s 99.94 test cricket batting average). A One Hundred Dollar Polymer Note is known as a Pistachio, Gorilla, Jolly Green Giant, Green Soldier (Monash portrait), Fat Lady (portrait of Dame Nellie Melba), Avocado, Watermelon, Cabbage Leaf, Lettuce Leaf (or just Lettuce), Apple, Choko, Mouldy Oldie, Green Tree Frog, Crocodile, Peppermint and Hen's Tooth (as in rare as Hen's Teeth).
Slang for money given in the Australian Colonial Period included: swag, which was a term given to a bushranger goods wrapped in a blanket, bucks, goods, cash, swiger- nicks, a term commonly used in England which was a term referring to money, pounds nickel.
Old currencies no longer in circulation include:
The Sixpence - 6d - was often referred to as a ‘zack’ which was an Australian / New Zealand term which referred to a coin of small denomination such as a sixpence or 5 cent coin. The term was also used to refer to short prison term such as 6 months.
One Shilling – One Bob
Two Shillings or Florin – Two Bob.
Ten Shillings – Ten Bob, Half a Quid, a Teddy or Half a Fiddly (derived from the one pound slang)
One Pound - £1 - Quid, Fiddly or Saucepan (rhyming slang for saucepan lid). The term quid may be derived from the Latin word 'quid' meaning ‘what’ as in ‘quid pro quo’; to give something for something else. The word Quid was also used in connection to multiple pounds e.g.: 5 quid etc.
Five Pounds – £5 - Fiver, Deep Sea Diver or Spin
Paper One Dollar note - Brown Bomber, Rooboy, Queenie + Bung buck (highly insulting term referring to the indigenous people depicted thereon.) The buck part coming from the American slang for their one dollar note. Oxford (Scholar), hailing back to the rhyming slang of Australia's British roots.
Paper Two Dollar note - Sick Sheep (reference the green colour and the merino ram thereon) and Greenback (borrowed from the U.S.).
In the first ten years[when?] of the existence of the euro a number of slang terms have emerged, though the difference in languages mean these terms are not common across the whole of the eurozone. Some terms are inherited from the legacy currencies, such as quid from the Irish pound and various translations of fiver or tenner being used for notes. The German Teuro is a play on the word teuer, meaning 'expensive'. The Deutsche Mark by comparison was worth half as much as the euro (a ratio of approximately 2:1) and some grocers and restaurants have been accused of taking advantage of the smaller numbers to increase their actual prices with the changeover, in Portugal the same has happened and usually use the term "Aério" with the meaning of "Aerial", the currency that flies away. In Flanders the lower value copper coins are known as koper or rostjes. Ege in Finland and Leru in Spain are also terms applied to the euro.
In India slang names for coins are more common than the currency notes. For 5 paisa (100 paisa is equal to 1 Indian rupee) it is 'panji'. A 10 paisa coin is called 'dassi' and for 20 paisa it is 'bissi'. A 25 paisa coin is called 'chavanni' (equal to 4 annas) and 50 paisa is 'athanni' (8 annas). However in recent years, due to inflation, the use of these small value coins has declined, and so has the use of these slang terms. The more prevalent terms now (particularly in Mumbai and in Bollywood movies) are 'peti' for a Lakh (Rs. 100,000) and 'khokha' for a Crore (Rs. 10,000,000.) Petti also means suitcase, which is the volume needed to carry a Lakh of currency notes. Due to the real estate boom in recent times, businessmen also use the terms '2C' or '3C' referring to two crores and three crores respectively.
In Malaysia there is a difference between states in their names for money. Normally "cents" are called "sen", but in the northern region (Penang, Kedah, Perlis) "sen" are called "kupang" and the "tens" are not mentioned. For example, 50 sen/cents is called 5 kupang and not 50 kupang.
In the East Coast Region ( Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang), they still used sen. But only for the value of 50 cents, they replace it with the word se-amah ( where "se" refer to one in Malay), if it's RM 1 (100 cents), it will be called dua-amah ( "Dua" is two in Malay), and so on.
And, exclusively in Kelantan, they don't refer the value of money in "ringgit", for example, in other states, RM 10 is called 10 ringgit, RM 25 is called 25 ringgit and so on. But, in Kelantan, they replaced the word "ringgit" with "riyal", for example, RM 10 is usually called 10 ringgit, but in Kelantan, it's called 10 riyal. This might be because Kelantan is an "Islamic state" on which the administration of the state is mostly by ulama.
The Russian language has slang terms for various amounts of money. Slang names of copeck coins derive from old Russian pre-decimal coins and are rarely in use today: an "altyn" is three copecks, a "grivennik" is ten copecks, a "pyatialtynny" ("five-altyns") is fifteen copecks, and a "dvugrivenny" ("two-grivenniks") is 20 copecks. Most of these coins are of Soviet mint and no longer used; only the ten copeck coin remains in circulation.
The word "chervonets" means ten rubles and refers to an early 20th-century gold coin of the same name. It is also called "chirik" (a diminutive for chervonets). The words for bank notes from 50 to 1000 rubles are the newest and most modern, since currently (2000s-2010s) bank notes of this value are most common in circulation. 50 rubles are called "poltinnik" (an old word that originally meant 50 copecks), 100 rubles are called "stol'nik" (a neologism from the Russian word "sto", meaning one hundred, not related to the Muscovite office of the same name), 500 rubles are called "pyatihatka" (lit. "five huts"), and 1000 rubles are called "shtuka" ("thing"), "kusok" ("piece") or "kosar'" ("mower").
Slang words for greater amounts of money originate from the 1990s and the Russian Civil War eras, when the ruble was suffering hyperinflation. The most common are "limon" (lemon) for a million rubles and "arbuz" (watermelon) for a billion rubles.
In Sweden money in general is colloquially referred to by the words stålar, deg ("dough") or klöver ("clover") and the English loanword cash. Slang terms for the Swedish krona in use today include spänn and bagis. Riksdaler (referring riksdaler, the former Swedish currency) is still used as a colloquial term for the krona in Sweden. A 20-kronor banknote is sometimes called selma, referring to the portrait of Selma Lagerlöf on the note.
Ready money (i.e. available cash) has for centuries been referred to in the United Kingdom as "rhino"; Brewer equates this term with "paying through the nose", rhino- being a Greek prefix referring to the nose, that is, paying in cash. The phrase itself "ready money" has also given rise to the far more popular "readies", though there is debate as to whether this is an obvious reference to the immediate availability of the currency or the red and white colour of the British fifty pound note, which is no longer legal tender. The related term "cash on the nail" is said to refer to 17th century trading stands in Bristol and elsewhere, over which deals were done and cash changed hands. Other general terms for money include "bread" (cockney rhyming slang 'bread & honey', money. This also became dough, by derivation from the same root), "cabbage", "clam", "milk", "dosh", "dough", "shillings", "frogskins", "notes", "duckets", "loot", "bones", "coin", "folding stuff", "honk", "lolly", "lucre"/"filthy "Lucre", "moola/moolah", "paper", "scratch", "readies", "spondulicks/spondoolic(k)s/spondulix/spondoolies", and "wonga".
Quid (singular and plural) is used for pound sterling or £, in British slang. It is thought to derive from the Latin phrase "quid pro quo". A pound (£1) may also be referred to as a "nicker" or "nugget" (rarer).
Some other pre-decimalisation United Kingdom coins or denominations became commonly known by colloquial and slang terms, perhaps the most well known being "bob" for a shilling, and "quid" for a pound. A farthing was a "mag", a silver threepence was a "joey" and the later nickel-brass threepence was called a "threepenny bit" (//, // or //); a sixpence was a "tanner", the two-shilling coin or florin was a "two-bob bit", the two shillings and sixpence coin or half-crown was a "half dollar" and the crown was a "dollar". Slang terms are not used for the decimal coins that replaced them but in some parts of the country, "bob" continues to represent one-twentieth of a pound, that is five new pence, and two bob is 10p. For all denominations "p" is used for pence.
In the United Kingdom the term "shrapnel" may be used for an inconvenient pocketful of loose change because of the association with a shrapnel shell and "wad" or "wedge" for a bundle of banknotes, with "tightwad" a derogatory term for someone who is reluctant to spend money. Quantities of UK 1p and 2p coins may be referred to as "Copper", 5p, 10p, 20p, and 50p coins as "Silver" and £1 and £2 coins as "Bronze" due to their colour and apparent base metal type. "Brass" is northern English slang for any amount of money.
Prior to their abandonment, the one pound note was occasionally referred to as a "Sheet" and thus the ten shilling note as a "Half Sheet". More commonly the ten shilling note was a "ten bob note" or, in London, "half a bar".
In pub culture five and ten pound notes are sometimes called "blue beer tokens" and "brown beer tokens" respectively.
Fairly recent additions are a "bullseye" for £50, a "pigeon" for £60 and a "badger" for £7.50.
£5 is called a "fiver". £20 is often referred to as a "score". £100 is commonly referred to as a "ton" e.g. £400 would be called 4 ton. £1000 is commonly referred to as a "bag" e.g. £4000 would be called 4 bags.
Rhyming Slang for particular quantities of money in the United Kingdom include; "Lady Godiva" for a fiver (£5), or a "Jacks" - Jacks Alive (extremely rare). A "Cockle" is £10 - Cock and Hen - ten. A "tenner" is £10. A "Darwin" also refers to a £10 note, due to the image of Charles Darwin on the back. A "score" is £20. A "pony" equals £25. A "bullseye" is £50. A "ton" or "century" is £100. A "monkey" is £500. A "grand" (or "Bag of Sand") commonly means £1,000 and use of this term is now very widespread. A "oner" (one-er) has referred to various amounts from one shilling to a pound, to now meaning £100 or £1,000, and a "big one" denoting £1,000. It is also fairly common now in the UK to count backwards from these large denominations using the word "down", e.g. £380 might be "four ton, 20 down" in UK slang.
General terms include dough, smackers, simoleons, duckets, and "spondulicks/spondoolic(k)s/spondulix/spondoolies". US banknote nicknames reflect their values (such as five, twenty, etc.), the subjects depicted on them and their color. The $5 bill has been referred to as a "fin" or a "fiver" or a "five-spot;" the $10 bill as a "sawbuck," a "ten-spot," or a "Hamilton"; the $20 bill as a "Jackson", also a "dub"; the $1 bill is sometimes called a "single," or a "buck,". The dollar has also been referred to as a "bone" or "bones" (i.e. twenty bones is equal to $20) or a "bean". The $100 bill is occasionally "C-note" (C being the Roman numeral for 100, from the Latin word centum) or "Century Note", it can also be referred to as a "Benjamin," (after Benjamin Franklin, who is pictured on the note).
These will be collectively referred to as "dead Presidents," although neither Hamilton ($10) nor Franklin ($100) was President.
$1000 notes are occasionally referred to as "large" in banking ("twenty large" being $20,000, etc.) In slang, a thousand dollars may also be referred to as a "grand," "G", "K" (as in kilo), or a "stack." (Usage: "The repairs to my car cost me a couple grand." Or: "The repairs to my car cost me a couple/couple of stacks.")
"Greenback" originally applied specifically to the 19th century Demand Note dollars created by Abraham Lincoln to finance the costs of the American Civil War for the North. The original note was printed in black and green on the back side. It is still used to refer to the U.S. dollar (but not to the dollars of other countries).
For coins a "nickel" is a coin worth one twentieth of a U.S. dollar. The coins themselves bear the legend, "FIVE CENTS". "Two bits" is twenty-five cents (after the Spanish 8-Real "piece of eight" coin on which the US dollar was based).
Other more general terms for money, not specifically linked to actual banknotes:
- Monetary units larger than 1 dollar are often referred to by the names of their coin counterparts: $5 is a "nickel", $10 is a "dime", and $25 is a "quarter".
- One hundred dollars is known in some circles as a "yard".
- A million dollars is sometimes called a "rock", popularized by several TV shows and movies, most recently The Sopranos: Tony Soprano: "So adjusting for inflation I'm looking at half a rock?" (The cost of Meadow's future wedding)
- "En ny cykel för 8 kronor". August 22, 2012. Retrieved 2012-10-16. "...ny cykel för 8 kronor... för bara åtta riksdaler"
- Brewer, E. Cobham (1978). Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. Avenel Books. p. 1053. ISBN 0-517-25921-4. "Some, as I know, Have parted with their ready rhino" - The Seaman's Adieu (1670)"
- Brewer, E. Cobham (1978). Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. Avenel Books. p. 875. ISBN 0-517-25921-4.
- Brewer, E. Cobham (1978). Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. Avenel Books. p. 1029. ISBN 0-517-25921-4. "If now a person is offered anything on sale, he might say, I have not a quid for your quo, an equivalent in cash."
|Look up dime, greenback, lucre, quid, or readies in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|