Slang terms for money
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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 Salmon, Fairy Floss, Galah, Skydiver, Pink Lady, Pink Snapper, Prawn, Piglet & Rasher (as in bacon due to reddish pink and white colouration), Five Dollarydoos, Fiver, Stuey Diver in reference to Stuart Diver, a MacGyver, a Pink Lady Apple (a part of the fruit naming convention), Friendly Royal Neck, Just Too Many Dollars For a Coin and The 'Whale Copping a Blowie'.
A Ten Dollar note is known as a Budgie, Blue Swimmer, Blue Tongue, Blue Heeler (breed of a cattle dog), a Banjo (from the picture of A.B. “Banjo” Paterson thereon), a Brumby, Tenner, Ten Dollarydoos, a cowboy, Pav (this derived from Pavarotti from the Three Tenors- hint: tenners), and Ayrton Senna or Guy McKenna (rhyming slang for tenner). Also known as a Blue Bottle like the Physalia utriculus found on Australian beaches, a blueberry (variations include blueberry sorbet, a blueberry cake, a blueberry on a plate, first blueberry of the season).
A Twenty Dollar note is known as a Redback, Red Lobster, Lobster, or Lobby, Crayfish, Rockmelon, Redback & Rusky (all terms pertaining to the red colouration of the note and that of the Soviet flag), A Bulbasor, Twenny Buckaroonies, a Vince Sorrenti, Twenty Dollarydoos, a Pig Ticket, a Red Delicious Apple (a part of the fruit naming convention) and a 'Real Wild Hog'.
A Fifty Dollar note is known as a Pineapple, Golden Drinks Ticket, McGarrett (after the lead character from T.V’s Hawaii 5-0 series / Book ‘em Danno), Hawaii, Yellow Peril, Fifty Dollarydoos, Banana, a Cane Toad, Fiddy-Bom-Biddy, One Thousand Red Frogs, a 'Halfa-Hunge' and a Cowie (Reference to Edith Cowan's famous love of the coward punch).
A One Hundred Dollar Polymer Note is known as a Caterpillar, Kermit (Green frog muppet), Granny Smith, Hundo, Hungee, Pistachio, Gorilla, Jolly Green Giant, Green Soldier (Monash portrait), Green Phantom, Fat Lady (portrait of Dame Nellie Melba), Avocado, Watermelon, Cabbage Leaf, Lettuce Leaf (or just Lettuce), Apple, Choko, Mouldy Oldie, Green Tree Frog, Crocodile, Grasshopper, Peppermint and Hen's Tooth (as in rare as Hen's Teeth), Ten-Thousand-Cent-a (there are one hundred cents in the dollar), Big Bad Baby Boy (Nellie Melba's boxing name), Johnny Monny's Sweet Sweet Dime (named for John Monash's infamous catch phrase), Twenty Dollars (origins unknown), One Hundred Dollarydoos, a 'Malcolm', a Lime (a part of the fruit naming convention) and The Most Worthy Rectangle.
A Five Cent coin is known as a Clunky Silver Echidna, dusty shrapnel, or a lazy Turnbull.
A Ten Cent coin is known as a Bird (as it features a male superb lyrebird), a Turd (rhyming slang for bird), or Howie's Sticky Dollar (a reference to John Howard's introduction of the 10% goods and services tax).
A Twenty Cent coin is known as a Splatty or Fatty (rhyming slang for the platypus featured on the coin), a Drowner, a Sir Braddy (in reference to the 2001 commemorative coin featuring Sir Donald Bradman), or a Three and a Half Clawed Canadian (a reference to the misprinting of some twenty cent pieces by the Ottawa Mint in 1981).
A Fifty Cent Coin is known as a Coat (referring to the Australian Coat of Arms on the face side of the coin), a Perfect Circle (a reference to its dodecagonal shape), a Frisbee, a Moon Rock, or a Cog.
A One Dollar Coin is known as an ANZAC Biscuit, a Mob (a reference to the mob of kangaroos on the face side of the coin), a Rubber Duck, a Flipper (a reference to the game two up), a Dollarydoo, or a Schooner.
A Two Dollar Coin is known as a Nugget, a Double Duck, a Twigger, a Fat Echidna or Fat Turnbull (since it is approximately the same diameter as a Five Cent coin, but thicker), Twoey Dollarydooeys, a Black Swan (as a swan is roughly shaped like a number two), or a Pint.
Slang for money given in the Australian Colonial Period included: swag, which was a term given to 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, Sky 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.).
Paper One Hundred Dollar note is known as a Grey Ghost, Grey Nurse (after the shark), Ghost & Bradman ( referring to Donald Bradman’s 99.94 test cricket batting average).
One-dollar Coin: loonie, due to the loon depicted on the coin's reverse.
$5 Bill: a fin, a fiver; half a sawbuck; $10 bill: ten-spot, dime, sawbuck; $100 bill: C-Note; a Borden $100.00 is also called an onion in gambling corners
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 approximately worth half as much as the euro (at a ratio of 1.95583:1) and some grocers and restaurants have been accused of taking advantage of the smaller numbers to increase their actual prices with the changeover by rounding to 2:1, in Portugal the same has happened and usually use the term "Aéreo" with the meaning of "Aéreal", the currency that flies away. In Flanders the lower value copper coins are known as koper (copper) or rosse (~ginger, referring to the colour). Ege in Finland and Pavo (which is the usual Spanish translation of buck on movies or TV shows when it refers to dollars) 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 Kenya there are about 42 different languages which have different dialects and indigenous names for money. The official National languages are Swahili and English. In English currency is known as Shilling while in Swahili its called Shilingi
Other notable names include:
|chapaa, munde, mundez, niado, dough, ganji, cheddaz, makwarkwar/mkwanja||Mbesha||Otongloh/Mafarangah|
Kenya being the third most corrupt state in the world and according to transparency.org [ranking at the bottom 145/175 globally] ...corruption officials in Government Agencies often refer to illicit kickbacks as 'chickens' to avoid anti-corruption and money laundering enforcement. Chickens only came to light when SFO unearthed the corruption as highlighted below:
SFO (Serious Fraud Office) had charged Smith and Ouzman (S&O), a printing company based in Eastbourne UK, with paying bribes to IEBC and KNEC officials totaling £433,062.98 in order to win business contracts and ensure repeat business.
The youth have a sub-culture street language for the different denominations. Using the street slang (sheng), youth most urbanites often amalgamate Swahili, English, and their mother-tongue to concoct meanings and names for the different denominations. Among the commonly used ones include:
|1.00||Ksh.1||bob/1bob (wan bob)|
|Coin||40.00||Kshs.40||Jongo/Karoosi||Jongo ya tefo/Ka-roo-see
(disambiguation for one of fmr Pres. Kibaki's wives: Mama Lucy Kibaki)
|200.00||Kshs.200||soo mbili/soo mbeh/mia mbeh/rwabe|
|500.00||Kshs.500||five soc||soo tano/punch/jirongo|
|1000.00||Kshs.1000||1K||a thao/ngiri/ngwanye/bramba/ndovu/muti/kapaa/kei(for letter 'K')
gee(for letter 'G')
(doesn't exist in notation)
Money is denoted by the Kshs. before the amount or using the /= after the amount.
Usually the amount will precede the nickname, for example Kshs.2.00 will be called two-bob after Kshs.1.00 (one-bob). Kshs.5,000 or 5,000/= will be called five-Kei etc.
After joining the East African Community (EAC), Kenya was supposed to start phasing out its local currency in line with regional integration monetary policy that was to begin in the year 2012. To date (circa.2016), no such policies is in place even though the whole East African countries refer to their money as Shillings.
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. (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.
South African slang for various amounts of money borrows many terms from the rest of the English speaking world, such as the word "grand" when referring to R1,000. Other words are unique to South Africa, such as the term "choc" when referring to a R20 note.The slang word for money is 'kroon'. One "bar" refers to an amount of R1,000,000.
|2 Bob||.20||a 20 cent coin||township slang|
|Tiger||10||a R10 note||township slang|
|Choc||20||a R20 note||township slang|
|5 Tiger||50||a R50 note||township slang|
|Pinkies||50||a R50 note||due to the note's colour|
|roogie||50||a R50 note||Afrikaans for red, due the note's colour|
|clipper'||100||a R100 note||township slang|
|clips||100||an amount of R100|
|Stene||1,000||an amount of R1,000||from the Afrikaans word for brick|
|Grand||1,000||an amount of R1,000||United Kingdom|
|Bar||1,000,000||an amount of R1,000,000|
|Meter||1,000,000||an amount of R1,000,000||township slang|
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 been referred to in the United Kingdom as "dosh" since at least 1953; Brewer equates this term with "paying through the nose", dosh being a Russian-Jewish 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. 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. 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.
The one pound note still in circulation in Scotland and Ireland is 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". "As bent as a nine bob note" is or was common colloquial phrase used to describe something or someone crooked or counterfeit.
In pub culture five and ten pound notes are sometimes called "blue beer tokens" and "brown beer tokens" respectively.
Fairly recent additions are a "Winston" for £5 (from the image of Winston Churchill on the back of the new note introduced in 2016), and "bullseye" for £50 (from the points value of the bullseye on a darts board).
£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" (from the Rhyming Slang "Bag of Sand") e.g. £4000 would be called 4 bags.
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" or a "bill" is £100 (e.g. £300 would be three bills). A "monkey" is £500. A "grand" (or "Bag of Sand" a grand) 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. A "oncer" referred particularly to a one-pound note, now defunct. 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.
Rhyming Slang for particular quantities of money in the United Kingdom include: "Lady Godiva" for a fiver (£5), or a "Jacks" - Jackson Five (extremely rare). A "Cockle" is £10 - Cock and Hen - ten (also "Ayrton", from Ayrton Senna/Tenner).
U.S. 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," or a "dub"; the $1 bill is sometimes called a "single," or a "buck," or an "ace." The dollar has also been referred to as a "bone" or "bones" (i.e., twenty bones is equal to $20) or a "bean." Among horse-race gamblers, the $50 bill is called a "frog" and is considered unlucky. 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), or a "yard," $300 being "3 yards." The $50 bill is also referred to by some as "half a yard."
These will be collectively referred to as "dead Presidents," although neither Alexander Hamilton ($10) nor Benjamin 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 [of] stacks.") A dime: "I lost a dime on the Patriot's game"; or "I won 5 dimes on the Celtics."
A Rack is $10,000 in the form of one-hundred individual $100 USD bills, banded by a bank or otherwise.
"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," therefore "nickel" can be considered a slang term. Similarly, penny coins (pennies) bear the legend "ONE CENT," whereas dimes and quarters bear the words "ONE DIME" and "QUARTER DOLLAR" respectively; a fifty-cent piece is marked "HALF DOLLAR." A bit is an antiquated term equal to one eighth of a dollar or 12 1⁄2 cents, so "two bits" is twenty-five cents (after the Spanish 8-Real "piece of eight" coin on which the U.S. dollar was initially based). Similarly, "four bits" is fifty cents. More rare are "six bits" (75 cents) and "eight bits" meaning a dollar. These are commonly referred to as two-bit, four-bit, six-bit and eight-bit.
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." It can also be called a buck, but since a buck is also used for one dollar, the context needs to be clear (this continues the pattern of referring to values by the coin counterpart).
- A million dollars is sometimes called a "rock," popularized by several TV shows and movies, most recently The Sopranos: In one episode Tony Soprano states: "So adjusting for inflation I'm looking at half a rock?" In a separate episode Soprano states: "This whole thing is going to cost me close to a rock."
- Omondi, Dominic. "Survey: Kenya ranked third most corrupt country in the world". Standard Digital News. Retrieved 2016-03-02.
- Mbaluto, Julius (23 December 2014). "Kenya: Smiths Found Guilty in Kenyan 'Chicken' Scandal Case". Newspaper. Retrieved 23 February 2016 – via The world wide web.
- "South African slang". Truly South African. Retrieved 3 March 2016.
- "En ny cykel för 8 kronor". August 22, 2012. Retrieved 2012-10-16.
...ny cykel för 8 kronor... för bara åtta riksdaler
- Brewer, 1978, p.1053 "Some, as I know, Have parted with their ready rhino" - The Seaman's Adieu (1670)
- Brewer, 1978, p.875
- Brewer, 1978, p.1029, "If now a person is offered anything on sale, he might say, I have not a quid for your quo, an equivalent in cash."
- "50 Slang Terms for Money". dailywritingtips.com.
- "History of Coins – Two Bits, ...". CoinWeek. CoinWeek LLC. Retrieved 6 June 2016.
- Brewer, E. Cobham (1978). Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. Avenel Books. ISBN 0-517-25921-4.
|Look up dime, greenback, lucre, quid, or readies in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|