These are the most confusing slang words Brits use for money – and where the terms come from
‘Bacon, ‘cheddar’ and ‘bread’ are some of the weird and wacky ways Brits refer to money, it has emerged.
Phrases such as ‘dosh’, ‘notes’ ‘bob’ and ‘dough’ are also more common place now as is ‘spondulix’, ‘reddies’ and ‘buckaroos’.
Others admitted they refer to their hard-earned cash as ‘loot’, while ‘lolly’, ‘bucks’, ‘Arthur Ashe’ or ‘plunder’ also made the list.
Regional favourites include ‘bob’ (42 per cent) in Yorkshire, ‘tuppence’ (41 per cent) in the South West, and ‘wedge’ (39 per cent) in London.
‘Bucks’ (35 per cent) is also popular in Scotland and while ‘copper’ (35 per cent) is common in East Anglia, according to the study.
Money-sharing app Pingit teamed up with lexicographer and Countdown’s Dictionary Corner host, Susie Dent, to help to shine a light on the diverse language of dosh.
She said: “New technology has certainly accelerated the speed at which slang moves on – and slang was already the fastest-moving area of language.
“Slang has different functions: many of the words we use are playful and a lot are tribal; we speak the same way as the groups we are part of.
“A great deal are also euphemistic, so it’s no surprise that a third of us are perplexed by their meanings and origins.
“Almost half the adult population finds discussing the subject of money difficult.
“Slang words help us to navigate these conversations by making us feel more comfortable and confident.”
The study also found more than half of Brits regularly use slang words for money but seven in 10 admit to getting confused about some of the meanings.
And 59 per cent don’t understand what denomination relates to different terms.
Of the words that leave us feeling confused, ‘rhino’ tops the list with nearly half (49 per cent) baffled by its meaning.
This is followed by ‘Pavarotti’ (49 per cent), and ‘marigold’ (48 per cent).
The study of 2,000 adults via OnePoll also found 47 per cent think the language of money is evolving, with 28 per cent agreeing that as new words for money are created, historical or traditional words fall by the wayside.
Three in ten also believe the evolution of money and payments over the past 10 years has impacted the words they use every day, for example, when they speak about ‘tapping’ for payment or ‘pinging over’ money.
The changing of the linguistic guard also looks set to continue as 41 per cent believe we will have different words for money and payments in 20 years’ time as technology continues to evolve.
As technology brings new words in, older words are falling out of favour with younger age groups, with ‘tuppence’ used by 54 per cent of people aged over 55 compared to just 16 per cent of 18-24-year olds.
Three in ten (31 per cent) people within the younger generation deem phrases such as ‘writing a cheque’ or ‘swipe your card’ as old-fashioned, compared to just two in ten (19 per cent) among all age groups.
Despite the many words for money, the research showed that 66 per cent of us don’t like talking about it and a further 45 per cent find the process awkward.
However, more than half of Brits (54 per cent) say using slang words for money makes them feel more confident when discussing dosh.
Darren Foulds, Managing Director of Pingit, said: “From the moment it was introduced, money created social relationships – from bartering with one another in ancient times to transferring funds amongst friends and businesses in modern day.
“It’s no surprise, then, that we’ve developed a rich vocabulary to make our conversations more light-hearted and fun.
”Whether we discuss the ‘dosh’, nag about the ‘notes’ or ask a pal to ‘ping it over’, one thing is clear: as long as money and payments evolve, the language we use around it will continue to develop in weird and wonderful ways.”
The findings were released by Pingit, an app that facilitates easy peer-to-peer payments with just a mobile number.
TOP 50 SLANG WORDS FOR MONEY
12. Wad 28%
28. Beer Tokens
32. Oner ‘Wunner’
35. Lady Godiva
39. Arthur Ashe
The most confusing slang words for money, and where the terms come from, according to Susie Dent:
1. Rhino (chosen by 49 per cent of Brits) – No one knows for sure where this 400-year-old term for money comes from. Some people link it to the value of rhino horn or the idea of paying through the nose (rhinoceros is from the Greek for ‘nose-horn’). Perhaps the arrival of the first rhino in Britain suggested the sense of something valuable.
2. Pavarotti (49 per cent) – Slang for a ten-pound note or tenner, this is a pun on the name of the famous ‘tenor’ Luciano Pavarotti.
3. Marigold (48 per cent) – Until the 19th century, coins rather than notes were the norm, and their colour spawned a number of terms. Gold for example gave us the terms ‘gingerbread’, ‘yellow boys’ ‘canaries’, and ‘goldfinch’. ‘Marigold’ once denoted any golden coin, but it is now more specifically used for the sum of one million pounds.
4. Commodore (48 per cent) – The result of a complicated and clever bit of rhyming wordplay for £15. Cockney rhyming slang for a fiver is a ‘Lady Godiva’, and the group the Commodores are best-known for their song ‘Three Times A Lady’.
5. Biscuits (47 per cent) – An extension of the popular slang link between money and food, ‘biscuits’ joins bread, dough, cake, sugar, potatoes, and many other foodstuffs in the money lexicon, which are seen as either the staples or the sweeteners of life.
6. Cabbage (47 per cent) – The colour of money, orginating from the United States, has also created a host of slang terms. The term ‘greenback’ quickly emerged after the creation of the dollar bill by Abraham Lincoln, and a number of green vegetables followed in its wake, such as ‘kale’, ‘lettuce’, and ‘cabbage’. ‘Cabbage’ had in fact already been used by London tailors in the 17th century for pieces of material pinched from a job and sold for a profit.
7. Beehive (47 per cent) – Rhyming slang for five; hence a five-pound note.
8. Sir Isaac (46 per cent) – Sir Isaac Newton was the face of the old one-pound note before it went out of circulation.
9. Archer (46 per cent) – A reference to the libel case involving the novelist Jeffrey Archer. The term is slang for the sum of £2,000, a reference to the amount that Archer allegedly offered as a bribe which was the basis of the case.
10. Darwin (45 per cent) – A ten-pound note, which features the face of Charles Darwin.