Did you know that monkey, boodle, buck, cheese, wonga, quid, and brass are all slang terms for “money”? Explore the origins of these expressions with these images created by Go Compare and Art Money.
- Monkey (£500)
This London-centric term originated in the 19th century when the British Empire had power in India. Back then the Indian 500 rupee note had a picture of an ape on it and was informally known as a “monkey”. The phrase made it across from the Raj to the UK and is still used to this day to talk about £500.
- Boodle (ill-gotten gains)
Originating from the Dutch word “boedel”, meaning personal property, this expression was originally used to refer to criminal profits and counterfeit banknotes. “Boodle” is now slang for money in general and is used in both the US and UK. You may also hear its longer form, “caboodle”.
- Buck (one dollar)
We haven’t always used money to pay for things, and back in 18th century America, deer (or “buck”) skins were traded instead of currency. The term stuck around, and “buck” is now commonly used as slang for one dollar.
- Cheese (money)
You may be surprised to hear Americans calling money “cheese”, but when you trace the origins of the term it makes perfect sense. After the Second World War, welfare packages included a hearty lump of cheese, so receiving one’s benefits meant “receiving one’s cheese”. The term has since evolved to become “cheddar”.
- Wonga (money)
This British slang term for money is said to have come from the Romani word, “wongar”, which means coal. In case you’re wondering what coal and money have in common, both are essential commodities for life, and “coal” was slang for money in 18th and 19th century Britain.
- Quid (one British pound)
The origins of the British term “quid” are unclear, but many think it came from the Latin phrase quid pro quo, meaning “something for something”, which sums up the basic principle of using currency, really.
- Brass (money)
“Brass” originates from the working class towns of northern England in the last century, where many people earned a living from collecting and selling scrap materials. This led to the creation of a proverb, “Where there’s muck, there’s brass”, and “brass” became regional slang for money.