There are many words relating to money – you would expect that as money is such a vital commodity. Words such as cash, coins, and currency are familiar, but there are also many slang words, such as: bread, dosh dough, lolly, lucre, moola/moolah, readies, scratch, shrapnel (for inconvenient amounts of loose change), spondulicks, wad or wedge for a bundle of banknotes, and wonga.
Before decimalization of the currency of the UK, various coins had their slang names: farthing (mag), three pence (threepenny bit), sixpence (a tanner), shilling (bob), two shillings or florin (two-bob-bit), two shillings and sixpence (half-crown or half-dollar), and five shillings (crown or dollar). You could not imagine any affectionate names for modern decimal coins. As regards notes, ten shillings was a ten-bob note or half a sheet and £1 was a sheet, nicker, or a quid.
Modern UK banknotes and sums made up thereof have their slang references some of which are rhyming: £5 (fiver or Lady Godiva), £10 (tenner, cockle/cock-and-hen), £20 (score), £25 (pony), £50 (bull’s-eye), £100 (ton or century), £500 (monkey), and £1000 (grand or bag of sand). Recent additions have been a badger for £7.50, and a pigeon for £60. Multiples of these sums could also be catered for as follows: £300 would be three ton and £3000 would be three grand or three bags.
But what of other countries – do they have their own slang terms? In Australia banknotes have nicknames that are determined by their colour or denomination. For example, a $5 note is known by various names, including fairy floss, pink lady, prawn, and piglet and rasher (rasher as in bacon due to its pink and white colour). A $20 note is known as a lobster or red lobster, rockmelon, and redback and rusky – all these terms referring to its red colour.
In the United States of America nicknames refer to their colour or the subjects depicted on them. A $10 note (bill) is a Hamilton, $20 a Jackson, and $100 a Benjamin (after Benjamin Franklin), all being persons depicted on their relevant notes.
Let us hope that our economies never go completely cashless or we may lose these wonderful terms.