Do You Know the Money Lingo - the Street Slang for the Cash in Your Pocket?


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Some of the common terms we use for money have interesting origins and meanings. We unfortunately lost a lot of our historic money slang in 1971 when the UK went decimal. Pounds, shillings and pence were known as ‘LSD’. When we had twelve pennies to a shilling, and twenty shillings to a pound there was a whole history of slang in use, a lot of it cockney rhyming. This particular language originated in London and was a type of coded talk. (A cockney was a Londoner born within hearing distance of the sound of Bow bells at Church of St Mary Le Bow, London, EC2).

The money used in the UK before 1971 was made up of varied coinage: A farthing, halfpenny, thruppence, sixpence or a ‘tanner', a shilling or a ‘bob', a two shilling or florin, a half-crown (two shillings and sixpence), a ten shilling note, a pound note, a guinea (twenty-one shillings), five, ten and twenty pound notes.

Decimalisation brought the end of the interesting money language, like the ‘bob’ or ‘Thrupenny bit’ and 100 ‘new pence’ or ‘p’ now made up the pound. Cockney slang has brought some modern slang for our pounds and pence.

  • 50p - Ten Bob Bit
  • £1 - A Quid or Nicker (from the nickel in the coins) or smacker (the noise it makes when counted out)
  • £5 - A fiver or Lady Godiva
  • £10 - A Tenner or Paul McKenna
  • £20 - A Score or twenty quid
  • £25 - A Pony
  • £30 - A Carpet
  • £50 - Half a Ton or a Nifty
  • £100 - A Ton or a One'r
  • £500 - A Monkey - thought to originate from soldiers returning from India, where the 500 rupee note had a monkey on it. This slang was then used for the sterling equivalent.
  • £1000 - A Grand
  • £2,000 - An Archer - came from the alleged Jeffrey Archer bribe
  • Slang terms

  • Rich - ‘loaded', ‘cashed up', ‘rolling in it'
  • Poor - 'skint' , ‘broke'
  • Mean - ‘tight-fisted'
  • Expensive - ‘costs an arm and a leg'
  • Cheap - ‘peanuts’ or ‘Ten a penny'
  • Coins - ‘loose change'
  • Notes - ‘folding money'
  • General terms for money - ‘Dosh'(from cheap lodgings ‘doss- house'), ‘dough', ‘bread', ‘wedge', ‘brass', ‘lolly, ’ ‘wad', ‘moola', ‘spondulicks’ (derives from Greek ancient currency)
  • Fiona Howard specializes in writing for the financial and business market, and is a well-respected city analyst. She currently advises Loan-Loans-Mortgage, one of the leading UK online sites for finding a fast Loan for HM Forces Members or a Business Start Up Loan


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