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The Pound Sterling



You don’t need to spend much time in the UK to notice that they use the word ‘quid’ more often than ‘pound’. The origin of the word is unclear, but it is possibly from the Latin word ‘quid’, meaning ‘that which is’.
It is important to remember that ‘quid’ does not have a plural!
In the rhyming slang favoured by the Cockney dialect of East London, pound coins are referred to as ‘bin lids’, because it rhymes with ‘quid’, but when referring to money in general ‘bread and honey’ may be used.
A more common word for money is ‘cash’ taken from a French word meaning ‘money box’. You can refer to ‘a bit of cash’ (a little) or ‘a wad of cash’ (a lot).
As in other languages, words for foods are sometimes used for money, most commonly ‘bread’ or ‘dough’. And a way to say that you earn a salary is that you ‘bring home the bacon’.
The most used notes in the UK are the five pound note and the ten pound note, so they have their own slang word: they are known, respectively, as ‘fivers’ and ‘tenners’.
A word adopted from the Americans is a “grand”, referring to a thousand pounds. An example of use could be: “My new smartphone cost a grand!”?

Learn more about the history of the pound and its importance to British culture in this month’s Speak Up!