Money Slang

The following list of terms for money is not necessarily rhyming slang but, since I get asked so often if I know about slang for money, I thought I'd include it here.

If you know any others please pass them on. These submissions are not verified and so may not be 100% accurate. Also, I don't know the origins for some of these terms... if you do, and would like to share, I'll try to post them here.

Slang termAmount
bobshilling [A bob was a money collection where participants put in a shilling each, usually for drinks. The expression then arose "to get your two bob's worth" which meant something was very good value, Aussies being fond of the occasional ale. - this possible explanation is courtesy of Dracos]
tannersixpence.  Nick Arrow offers the following:  from India&#151a rupee was about equal to a shilling, and was divided into sixteen annas. so half a rupee was "eight anna"&#151say it fast. or in Hindi, it's "aat anna". makes you jump when you hear it in India!
tenner£10 [Also known as a Paul McKenna (famous hypnotist).  Thanks to Richard Hall]
score£20 (Rhyming slang reference is apple core&#151see rhyming slang pages)
Oxford5 shillings or a crown [derived from Oxford Scholar which rhymes with dollar which, pre-war, was just under 5 shillings. [Thanks to Jim Williams.  Also known as Coachwheel]
'alf an Oxford2 shillings & 6 pence or half a crown [Thanks to Jim Williams)
Nicker or Quid£1 [Thanks to Jim Williams.  Also, the rhyming slang Bin Lid is used for quid. [Thanks to Richard Hall]
Readies (Nelson Eddy's)Pound note [Thanks to Julia Jones] Colin Craig adds the following:   Actually I believe "reddies" refers to £50 notes which are of course red.  This term can be used to describe any amount of money.  And Mark adds: A traditional term for cash is "ready money" a term still used on Smithfield market. I would suggest that this is where the term "reddies" comes from.   Frank Wales advises that the term Nelsons refers to money generally, so a lot of nelsons is a lot of money]
Century£100 [John knows the expression C-Note, which he believes is American ]
Skin Diver (or Deep Sea Diver or Sky Diver or Scuba Diver or Pam Shriver)fiver [Lend us a deep sea 'til payday.  [Thanks to Peter Barnes and Paul Liney and Simon Rowan and Dean]
Sprarsy AnnaTanner (sixpence) Lend us a sprarsy.  Thanks to Mike Smith.   He wonders if Sprarsy might have something to do with the old Indian coin called an "anna". If you have any more info please let me know.
Bullseye£50 [Thanks to Jez Stacey]
Wicker Basket£15.  Neal says he's not sure of the origin although it has been suggested that it has something to do with flower sellers and Jack the Ripper (?).   [Thanks to Neal Gordon]
Lady Godiva£5 (fiver).  'ere, can you spare a lady?"   [Thanks to Jon Lord]
Ayrton Senna£10 (tenner).  Also known as Louise Wener.  See the rhyming slang tables.  [Thanks to Jon Lord.  Tom Good reports that he's also heard the phrase "Dead Brazilian" used, as in "I pulled a dead Brazilian out of me sky rocket"]
Plenty£20 [Reported to be not widely used.  Thanks to Jon Lord]
Thrifty£50 [Reported to be not widely used.  Thanks to Jon Lord]
One-er£100 [Pronounced "wunner".  [Thanks to Loz Grey]
Mother Hen£10 [Thanks to Loz Grey]
Archer£2000. Based on the (alleged) amount Lord Jeffery Archer handed a prostitute, can't remember why but there was (again, allegedly) something dodgy about it.   [Thanks to Alan S. Greer]
Nugget£1 [Apparently because it's golden coloured.  Thanks to Oliver Campion.  Also known as Canary or Yellow-Boy.  Shane Greyvenstein correctly points out that a yellow-boy, which is slang for guinea, is actually worth one pound, one shilling.  I should note that when the guinea was originally struck in 1663 it was actually worth one pound&#151it wasn't until 1717 that the value was raised.]
SquidQuid [Jon Simmons reports this is commonly used in Reading]
Cock and Hen£10 [Thanks to Philip Hart and Bill Medhurst.  Gareth adds that cockle is commonly used, as in "lend us a cockle".]
WedgeComes from when coins could be split into quarters so exact weights could be measured. The shape of these sections was a wedge.   [Thanks to Philip Hart]
Bottle£2 or £200 [Thanks to Bill Medhurst.  Kris Johnson says this is from 'bottle of glue' -> two]
Carpet£3 or £300 [Thanks to Bill Medhurst. Kris Johnson says that prisoners used to get a square of carpet after being locked up for three years]
Rofe£4 or £400 (supposedly four backwards) [Thanks to Bill Medhurst]
Jacks Alive£5 [Thanks to Bill Medhurst]
Tom Mix£6 [Thanks to Bill Medhurst]
Nevis£7 (Seven backwards) [Thanks to Bill Medhurst]
Poorly FishSix quid (sick squid)  [Thanks to Kevin Lowther - sounds like more of a bad pun than slang but ...  Tom reports that the reference he knows is "dead octopus" as in "I've only been here 5 minutes and I've done a dead octopus".  And Darryl Clark reports the expression "dodgy octopus" is also used.]
Pavarotti (tenor)Tenner - £10  [Thanks to Dave Reynolds. Also referred to as a Lucy, according to Tom Harris]
Rocket£5 - from the picture of George Stevenson's rocket on the five pound note. Thanks to Chris Kenny
Commodore£15 - how odd...  Benjamin Preston says that this one derives from the fact that the Commodores sang "Three Times a Lady" (Lady Godiva ->fiver)
Nifty£50 [Nifty - Fifty.  Thanks toTim Le Maire]
Bag of Sand£1000 (grand) [Thanks to Keith Cole]
Bernie£1,000,000 [Refers to Bernie Ecclestone of Formula One fame who donated one million pounds to the Labour election campaign - thanks to Vidar Thomas Endresen]
Jackson£5 [From the Jackson Five - thanks to Steve Hicks]
Long 'un£100 [Thanks to Dean Willingham]
Bag (of sand)£1000 [Bag of Sand -> Grand.  Thanks to Dean Willingham]
Dirty£30 [Thanks to Stuart McHugh]
Ching£5 [From the Spanish cinco perhaps.  Thanks to Simon Mahon]
MaggieOne pound coin. As in Maggie Thatcher (under whose premiership they were introduced, I believe), because "They're brassy and think they're a sovereign."  [Thanks to Justyn Olby]
McGiver£5 [From the popular TV series - thanks to Ben Dellow]
Melvin£5 [From Howard Melvin and the Bluenotes - thanks to Rob Neal]
Browny£10 [Thanks to Kieren]
Edge Pence20p [From the shape of the coin - thanks to Kieren]
McGarret£50 [From the Hawaii-50 television series.  Thanks to Simon Mahon.  Justin Soloman says the expression 'Jack Lord' is also used.]
Bar£1,000,000 [Thanks to Laurence Coley who says it's commonly used in the money markets and thinks the origin might have originated with the value of a bar of gold - uncertain.  Ben Morton offers:  I suggest it's because there's a bar on top of the "M" in its roman numeral equivalent.  William Foot believes it should be £10,000,000.00.  If anyone can clarify this I'd appreciate it.]
Alan£1 [From Alan Wicker - Thanks to Lee Newman]
Spanner50p [Source might be due to the shape of the 50p - Thanks to Lee Newman.  Chris offers the following "supporting evidence": Why does a fifty pence piece have flat sides?  So you can use a spanner to get 'em out of a Scotsman's/ Aberdonian's/Yorkshireman's hand.]
Bobby MooreScore (i.e. £20) [Thanks to Paul Island]
Beer Token£2 coin [Andy M says that when they first appeared, a bear cost about £2]
Hampden Roar (Score)£20 [Thanks to Gary Robertson]
Cenny (century)£100 [Thanks to Gary Robertson]
ElsieSixpence [from Coronation Streets Elsie Tanner - thanks to Carol]
Flag£5 [Thanks to Sparky James and Brian Spencer - Brian notes that £5 notes were at one time very large - this might explain the reference]
Garden Gate£8 [Thanks to Ian Crossley]
Taxi DriverFiver - £5 {Thanks to David]
JoeyPlease look on the Questions page (link at the top of this page).
ShrapnelRefers to loose change [Thanks to Bruce Richardson]
SheetsGeneral term for paper money [Thanks to Pete Orme]
Yard£1,000,000,000.  [Thanks to George McLean who explains that each '000' is a foot, three feet equal one yard.  Similarly, it could be a yard of yen or any other currency.  Richard Stanton points out that yard is probably short for milliard, meaning 1 billion]
DoshAny sort of money [Thanks to Lisl]
Double Nugget£2 coin [Thanks to Richard Sisson]
Bluey£5 [Because of the bills colour.  Thanks to Stuart Bassett]
Charred£5 [He says that the ink on the notes often get burnt during manufacture.  Thanks to Stuart Bassett]
Bertie£30 [Thanks to Stuart Bassett.  Gerry Gavigan says this comes from the musical hall song "Burlington Bertie" (a tramp living in Burlington arcade in Knightsbridge) I'm Burlington Bertie I rise at ten thirty"]
Huckleberry Hound£1 [Thanks to Willie Mackay]
BenderSixpence.  I believe it got its name because real ones had a certain silver content and bending them was a way of proving this.  It also led to the phrase 'going on a bender' which was a good night out drinking a whole sixpence worth! [Thanks to Peter Gazeley]
Grubby Hand£1,000 (grand) [Thanks to Jim Knight whose granddad says this expression was used in East London from Victorian times to the 1940's or 1950's.
Drinking VoucherAny denomination, the value determined by the colour - a "blue drinking voucher" would be £5 [Thanks to Nick]
Purple£20 [Thanks to Paul Brister]
Bucket of Sand£1,000 (grand) [Thanks to Andrew Tough]
SpotEach pound of a group - a ten spot would be £10, a twenty spot would be £20.  [Thanks to John Lines who says this is commonly used - the spot indicates the decimal point]
Jake£5 [Thanks to Talktoi]
In the Green£25 [outer circle of the bull's eye - thanks to John Campbelton]
Heptagonal Bad BoyAnother name for a twenty pence piece, used in pubs and bars for things like pool table and table football, though less so now since they usually are more expensive [Thanks to Daniel Dockery]
Spit Roast£25  [Thanks to Will who confusingly notes "because its two ayrtons and a lady"]
StretchTenner = 1stretch, 20 = 2 stretch, 50 = 5 stretch, etc. [Thanks to John who heard this on Commercial Road - the reference here is to prison terms]
Edge Pences50p [Thanks to Paul Madgwick]
Half a Bar50p [Thanks to Sig]
Sov or Sov's£1 [Short for sovereigns - Thanks to Ray Norgate]
Henry£10 [Russ says a tenner is called a Henry because of the picture on it and that an eighth of marijuana is called a henry because it costs a tenner.  Matt completely disagrees with Russ - an eighth of marijuana is called a henry after Henry VIII, not because of the cost.]
Desmond£4 [Desmond Tutu (2 2) - thanks to Jeremy Adam]
String of PoniesHalf a monkey (£250) - thanks to Wik
Emperor MingMoney in general [Rhymes with ka-ching (sound of a cash register).  Thanks to Michelle Chiles]
Dartboard£2 coin [Because of the concentric circles in its design = Thanks to Rob Jones]
Super Nugget£2 [Origin unknown - Thanks to Martin Tilley]
Maggie£1 coin [From the eighties, of the then new gold-coloured one-pound coin, because, it was said, 'it's brassy, two-faced and thinks it's a sovereign' (the then Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, had a noticeable tendency to mimic some of the more regal characteristics of Her Majesty).  Ivor Randle confirms: "As I recall, for a short while the then new pound coin was called a "Maggie" after Prime Minister of the time Margaret Thatcher, because it is "small and brassy, and thinks it's a sovereign"."]
Money that foldsIn general, all paper money.  [Thanks to Tom Mathias]
JoesThrupenny bit (3p) [Thanks to Toad]
Round MoneyGenerally, coins [Thanks to Edward Williams]
Ten Bob BitThe new 50p coin [Thanks to Steve Bonnage]
Gorilla (Grilla)£1000 [According to Russell Holden, it's called this because it's two monkeys]
BrownieI understand that Ten Shillings (50p) - (Ten Bob) was a 'Brownie' because the old ten shilling note was coloured brown [Thanks to Geoff Richards-Bray]
Cherry£1 - In the '60s I was a craps dealer in London gambling clubs. Cockney 'cabbies' would play at our table, and call bets before the dice rolled. One night one of them handed me a 'fiver' with the words:" A 'Cherry' on the line mate!" I asked what he meant, and he quickly explained that he wanted £1.00 out of the fiver on the 'Win Line' 'Cherry' is short for 'Cherry Picker' which rhymes with 'nicker' which = £1.00! [Thanks to Tony Pirkis]
Groatfour pence [There's lots of information at [Thanks to Nigel Lines]
Point£1 billion [Mark says this is used in the B of E and the European money markets - never really come up in my day to day]
Large£1000 [Thanks to Benjamin Rumble]
Rio£1000 [Thanks to Paul Page who says it comes from the Rio Grande River]
Pinky£50 [Thanks to Scott Hobson.  If anyone know the origin of this please let me know.]
TosheroonHalf crown [Thanks to Sue Allen who read this in Sidney Day's London Born]

I was being asked very often where the terms "monkey" and "pony" came from. I've received the following which hopefully clears this question up.

Stephen Cheshire has provided the following: With reference to a 'monkey' for £500. I was once told that it came from soldiers returning from India where the 500 rupee note had a picture of a monkey on it. They used the term monkey for 500 rupees and on returning to England the saying was converted for sterling to mean £500.

This has been confirmed by Jason Beckett who also believes that the 25 rupee note had a picture of a pony on it.

Mathew Jackson confirms this.

Ian Crossley says: Pony comes from the time when five pound notes were white and the cost of horses or ponies and the wedding carriage and the main expenses was approx £25. People used to say "I'll pay for the pony in white", referring to the colour of the money and the wedding. Therefore five white fivers became a pony roughly the cost of a wedding.

On the other hand, Henry Charles believes the references come from diamond mining , where a monkey means 50 carats and pony 100 carats, modified to mean £50 and £100 respectively.

The pound note is just an IOU. It promises to pay the bearer on demand a pound in weight of coinage. Coinage was originally transacted in weights. Often a mixture of coins did not weigh exactly a pound or half a pound, in fact they often had to split a coin to make the mixture of coins weigh exactly what was required. To make the splitting of a coin easier, certain coins were stamped with a cross. This enabled a coin to be split easily in half or quarters. This cross was likened to a star, the coins where soon nicknamed 'starlings', this word eventually evolved to what we now know as STERLING. English coins where split into four, each quarter was nicknamed a fourthing or fourling, this word evolved into FARTHING. Many foreign coins had more elements to their stars and their coins where split into eighths, hence the term PIECES OF EIGHT. A lot of these coins where of Hispanic origin and the term associated with these coins developed in the American version of English which is where the Americans get the term 'TWO BIT THIS' or 'TWO BIT THAT' from. Many people think the term 'wedge' is a recent slang term or relatively modern term, this is not the case. When a coin was split into quarters or eighths the shape was of a wedge and this is where the term comes from.

--- Contributed by Philip Hart (slightly edited)

I disagree with this derivation of pieces of eight! The most common coin minted by the Spanish in South America and looted by Pirates was the 8 Real coin and that is where Pieces of Eight comes from. Furthermore the figure eight was not minted properly and looked more like an 'S', these were struck through and used as currency by pirates in the Caribbean which is the origin of the $ sign.

--- Contributed by J David Garnett

The Esterling or Sterling penny took its name from the workmen, who were from the Esterlings tribe (in Germany), whilst the tribe of Stollers was corrupted overtime to Sdtollers and then Dollars. These tribes made the coins to a fixed size, weight and design and therefore could be trusted.

Nothing to do with pieces of eight.

--- Contributed by Clive Powell

The term "Sterling" was derived from the Hanseatic League, which was principally made up of Baltic Traders, who, in the Middle Ages , had significant power over our Kings who were always looking to borrow money. They were given certain rights and privileges to trade and became known as the Easterling, which became shortened to Sterlings. The principal form of international currency in the period was the Mark, as in the forerunner of the former German currency. Fines in the Middle Ages were in Marks, as were monies left in Wills and other such legal notices. We also used to call the 2 shilling bit a Florin, which was because it was the same value as the Dutch Florin or Guilder as was the Bezant, minted in Florence in 1252, from where the term Florin originally derived.

--- Contributed by Julian Porter

The term Dollar comes from the Bohemian word Taler, which derives from the second part of "Joachimstaler" (from Joachims valley) where in1519 large deposits of silver were found and minted into coins. Taler became the general name for silver coins eg.: Taler or Talar (Polish), Tallero (Italian), Daalder (Dutch), Daler (Swedish) and of course Dollar.

--- Contributed by David Whiteway