plonkee money an english-er's thoughts on personal finance

July 31, 2007

british money slang

Filed under: Uncategorized — plonkee @ 12:00 pm

Patrick of cash money life found a good post on American money slang and would like to know the origin of the word quid. Here is my non-definitive list of common British English slang terms for money, their meanings and derivations (where possible).

quid = one pound sterling This is the most common form of slang for a pound, and is used in exactly the same context that dollar currencies use ‘buck’. Interestingly the plural of quid is quid as in ‘you owe me five quid’. Probably comes from the Latin ‘quid pro quo’ which means something in exchange for something else and is used in legal transactions. It could also be from a mint that existed in Quidhampton.

squid = quid Modern corruption / diminutive, probably comes from the joke about a shark, a whale and a sick squid.

fiver = five pound note This is pretty self-explanatory, and is used all the time, as in ‘you can give it to me in fivers’

Lady Godiva = fiver Modern rhyming slang

tenner = ten pound note This should also be obvious and is incredibly common, as in ‘I’ll need a tenner to pay for that’

Ayrton Senna = tenner Modern rhyming slang

shrapnel = loose change Usually slightly derogatory and implies that lots of small denomination coins. Comes from military shrapnel, especially in the second world war. As in ‘I don’t have any notes so its all shrapnel’

dosh = a moderate amount of cash Roughly the amount of money that you’d need to spend on a night out. This may come from an African colonial word ‘dash’ which meant a bribe or tip, or the amount of money needed to stay in a doss house or a corruption of dollar and cash. As in ‘have you got enough dosh for this?’

readies = money Just a corruption of the expression ‘ready cash’. As in ‘have you got the readies?’

wad = a large amount of cash Think of a crisp wad of bank notes – could refer to a sum of money from £50 or so up in cash. This was made very popular by the comedian Harry Enfield with his loadsamoney character. As in ‘he was waving around a large wad’.

bob = shilling (in old money), sometimes pound (in new money) This was the slang for shilling (1/12th  1/20th of a pound in old money) but is now occasionally used for a pound as in ‘lend me five bob’ but more commonly as a sum of money, as in ‘he makes a few bob’ meaning he’s got a good income. This dates from at least the 18th century if not earlier, and could be derived from bell-ringing where it is a set of changes rung on bells (shilling could come from a german word meaning ring). Other derivations include the French ‘bas billon’ meaning debased currency or a plumb-bob used to mark a vertical position (like a plumb-line).

nicker = one pound Another form of slang for the pound sterling, the plural of nicker is nicker, as in ‘that cost eight nicker’. Probably comes from the use of nickel in coins.

wonga = money This is a very London word. Suggestions that it might derive from a Romany word ‘wanga’ meaning coal.

brass = money Dates from the sixteenth century, referring to a pile of coins. Most common in Yorkshire.

lolly = money Absolutely no idea where this comes from.

spondoolicks = money Might derive from a type of shell used as currency in ancient Greece (spondulox), spondoolicks (emphasis on the ‘oo’) dates from at least the mid 1800s.

Edited to correct error. There were 20 shillings in a pound not 12.

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