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« One of these days, this sort of thing will get me into trouble | Main | Virtual, like dollars »

What's in a name?

By Dave Birch posted Dec 1 2010 at 1:56 PM

[Dave Birch] I noticed that Moneybookers have changed their name to Skrill. I assumed this was a DNS-driven selection, but apparently not. On their web site they say that

Skrill is an informal term for money

[From moneybookers.com]

On which planet? According to the dictionary I looked in, "skrill" is an "adjective used to describe high quality marijuana".

This, naturally, led me to waste a train journey mulling the etymology of moolah, something I've writen about before.

The Chinese currency was referred to as “cash” by the English when they came across it. It's a wonderful linguistic intersection, because the English word "cash" comes from the Middle French "caisse", meaning a box or chest. But the local South Asian word for the metallic circulating means of exchange was the homophone (to English ears) derived from the Tamil kāsu, a South Indian monetary unit. So "cash" it was.

[From Digital Money: Lucky, for me anyway]

But this time, I'm thinking about slang. I think I probably use "wonga" the most, but I don't know why (except for the alliteration around "where's the wonga"). It's not in my Mac's thesaurus, which only lists dough, bread, loot, moolah, bucks, dinero and lucre. I thought that wonga was one of those made-up slang terms that comes out of nowhere, but Collins' gives the derivation as possibly from the Romany word for coal "wonger". I was chairing a panel last week with our good friend Paul Pike from Intelligent Venue Solutions on the panel and I remember him telling me a story, from his days in the rock concert promotion business, about the confusion that the term "gig wonga" caused US-based accountants. Sadly, wonga still hasn't made it across the Atlantic.

While googling to check something, I found a pointer to a super article by Michael Quinlon on the history of British slang for money, including terms that you never hear any more (now that Minder is off the air) such as pony (£25) and monkey (£500). This has some fascinating terms in it, but when I was wondering whether to add something on the derivation of the world dollar (from "thaler") I came across another piece that claims that "rhino" was in common use for "money" back in 1670, so as I am a naturally conservative person I've decided that I'm going to try and use that in conversation from now on.

Cassells suggests rhino (also ryno and rino) meant money in the late 1600s, perhaps alluding to the value of the creature for the illicit aphrodisiac trade... the term rhino appears in American author Washington Irving's story The Devil and Tom Walker, which is set in 1730s New England, published in 1824.

[From money slang history, words, expressions and money slang meanings, london cockney money slang words meanings expressions]

What is the most common slang term for money that you personally use?

These opinions are my own (I think) and presented solely in my capacity as an interested member of the general public [posted with ecto]


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Thumb and forefingers rubbed together.

Or dosh.

yup, dosh too

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