16 Money Slang Terms (And Their Origins)

You give nicknames to the ones you love and, for money, that’s the truest of all. It seems like we have an endless supply of monikers for our dollars and cents. From old school to new wave, everyone has rebranded their loose change.

Where, though, did some of these terms originate? After all, we repeat them. Shouldn’t we know where they came from? To not would be foolish. And, as we all know, a fool and his bacon are soon parted…

16 Bacon

Bringing home the bacon is a phrase most people know. Where did it come from? According to Phrases.org, it is often linked to be the story of the Dunmow Flitch. A local couple in 1104, were found to be so impressive with their marital devotion to one another that they were awarded a flitch (a.k.a. a side) of bacon.

15 Bread

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This one comes from the English Cockney Rhyming Slang term, “Bread and Honey” , which means “money”. This is also where “dough” comes from. Dough makes bread. If you’re just realizing that, you’re not alone. Mind. Blown.

14 Bucks

Big bucks. No Whammy. Stop. Stop at a somewhat disputed origin that goes back to deer in the 1700s. The idea that trading deerskin was seen as a form of currency. Therefore, if you had bucks, you had buck.

13 Cheddar

One would think that cheddar is delicious and money is too. While true, it isn’t the reason we give our cash such a cheesy nickname. Cheddar comes from the food purchases that those on food stamp programs are typically associated with buying. Think of it as an off-shoot of “Government Cheese” slang.

12 Clams

This one is pretty basic. Native Americans used clams as money. That’s it. Fred Flintstone did too, but he’s a cartoon.

11 Fiver

This one is for a five dollar note. There’s no mystery here as it just takes the word it is referring to and messes with it. By the same token, “tenner” is used for ten and “hundo” is used for a hundred.

10 Grand

Believe it or not, this one means what it sounds like. At the turn of the 20th century, one thousand dollars was considered to be a “grand” amount of money. People used it and it caught on in grand fashion.

9 Green, Greenbacks, Lettuce

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These all deal with the color of money (the color, not the movie). In the United States, paper money is green and, with that, came a reference to anything green

8 Loot

This one comes from the Hindi language during the the Hindustani colonial years. “Lut” means spoils pillaged from the enemy during war. “Loot” is what you drop on your bling.

7 Moolah

Not just the legendary female wrestler. “Moolah” is also the Fijian word for money. It is the most likely reason we use it for slang when referring to our own nuggets.

6 Nuggets

The gold rush was all about the moolah and the gold nuggets that netted the most were the nuggets that mattered most.

5 Quid

This British slang for a one pound sterling coin is though to come from the term “quid pro quo” which,  is a Latin phrase meaning an exchange of goods or services, where  transfer is contingent upon a returned favor. The phrase directly means “a favor for a favor”.

4 Scratch

This one is a…(hate to do it)…head-scratcher. While the term showed up in the 20th century, few can find its meaning. Often, it’s said that “Scratch” or “Old Scratch” as a term for the Devil, derived from the Old Norse word “skratte” which means “goblin.”

3 Smackers

$100 is one hundred smackers. It’s origin is often traced to 1918 and the sound money made when “smacked” into one’s hand. In fact, the original term credited to money was “smackeroo”, but it evolved to smacker in 1939.

2 Simoleans

This one is old school. There is the late 1800s blending of simon, meaning “dollar”, with simon, the term for a sixpence coin. Although it is also linked to Napoleon and his appearance on the French coin worth 20 francs, featuring the image of Napoleon III.

1 Two-bits

Hey bub, you got my two bits there? You’re the bee’s knees. In the case of the twenty-five cent piece, “bit” was an English term for any coin of a low denomination. In the early days of the United States, some Mexican and Spanish coins were worth one-eighth of a single peso. So, at twelve and a half cents, two bits equaled a quarter.

READ NEXT: Rap Dictionary: 10 Hip-Hop Slang Words For Money

Sources: Word Detective, Phrases.org, Huffington Post, Wall Street Journal, Thrillest, Times of India, Etymoney

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