Sunday, May 28, 2023



Money terms and their origins . . . .



The English word money first appeared in the 14th century. It was derived from the Latin word moneta, a name given to the Roman goddess Juno Moneta, at or near whose temple the Romans first began minting coins around 300 BCE.

In Roman mythology, Moneta was a title given to two separate goddesses: It was the name of the goddess of memory (identified with the Greek goddess Mnemosyne), and it was an epithet of Juno, called Juno Moneta. The latter's name is the source of numerous words in English and the Romance languages, including “money" and "mint".


Bread has a significance beyond mere nutrition in many cultures because of its history and contemporary importance. Bread is also significant in Christianity as one of the elements (alongside wine) of the Eucharist, and in other religions including Paganism.

In many cultures, bread is a metaphor for basic necessities and living conditions in general. For example, a "bread-winner" is a household's main economic contributor and has little to do with actual bread-provision. This is also seen in the phrase "putting bread on the table". The Roman poet Juvenal satirized superficial politicians and the public as caring only for "panem et circenses" (bread and circuses). In Russia in 1917, the Bolsheviks promised "peace, land, and bread."

Some possible origins for its use as a term for money:

- That it is Cockney rhyming slang with ‘honey’ from an old Cockney rhyme, “Give me your money. Give me your bread and honey."

- That it can be traced back to the Bible where bread is sometimes referred to as a means of barter or payment.

- That it comes from the expression ‘earning a crust’, which means having enough money to pay for one’s daily bread.

- According to jazz historian Phil Schaap, jazz musician Lester Young gave rise to it: 'You call up Lester Young for a gig, he'd say, 'Okay, how does the bread smell?' So he used 'bread' for money for the first time.'." It may be that he popularised a term already in use.

In the early 1700s, “bread moved from its literal meaning and took on a new sense of livelihood or subsistence. The first Oxford citation is from Robinson Crusoe, Daniel Defoe’s 1719 novel: “I was under no Necessity of seeking my Bread.”

Although “bread” meant livelihood or subsistence in the 18th century, it didn’t come to mean money per se until the 20th century. Examples of this slang sense:

-  from Jazzmen, a 1939 book edited by Frederick Ramsey Jr. and Charles Edward Smith: “Inside the low, smoky room, the musicians sweated for their bread.”

-  OED citation from the June 15, 1952, issue of DownBeat magazine: ”If I had bread (Dizzy’s basic synonym for loot) I’d certainly start a big band again.”

The expression bread as money seems to have originated in the 19th century and the word dough was a later substitute, although other etymologists maintain that bread came from dough.


The word "dough" has roots in the languages spoken in northern Europe which became ancestors of modern English. In Old English, the word for uncooked bread was "dag." This word originated in "dheigh," a root meaning to knead or form, from ancient Indo-European. Related words include "teig" in German, "deg" in Swedish and Dutch, and "dej" in danish.

“Dough” as slang for “money” is an American coinage dating back to the mid-19th century.

“Dough” in this sense is based on “bread,” popular slang for money since the 1930s.

The use of “bread” to mean “sustenance” in a more general non-money sense dates back to the early 1700s There may even be a pun there, since the ancient Germanic root sense of “dough” is “something that is kneaded,” money is definitely “something that is needed.”

By the way:

“Doughboy” as World War I slang for an American soldier, dates back to at least 1847, before the Civil War. In her memoirs, written in 1887, the widow of General George Armstrong Custer mentions that the small boiled dumplings served to sailors aboard early 19th century ships were known as “doughboys,” and that the term became slang for soldiers because the large brass buttons on their uniforms resembled the dumpling “doughboys.”



Moolah is a Fijian word meaning 'money'.



British and Australian word for money.

Various possible origins:

- Derived from the slang 'doss-house', meaning a very cheap hostel or room, from Elizabethan England when 'doss' was a straw bed, from 'dossel' meaning bundle of straw, in turn from the French 'dossier' meaning bundle. Dosh appears to have originated in this form in the US in the 19th century, and then re-emerged in more popular use in the UK in the mid-20th century.

- Possibly a combination of dollars and cash.

- Scottish dialect doss (tobacco pouch, a purse containing something of value).

- From the old African colonial term dash, denoting a tip or bribe.

This is a working-class term from the early 1950s which was falling out of use in the 1960s, but which, like many similar words (bunce, loot, lolly, etc.), was revived in the money conscious late 1980s.


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