Posted by DGW on March 23, 2002
In Reply to: Re: Spondulicks posted by ESC on March 23, 2002
... now let's see you track down "spondoolicks". I'm betting on a Romany influence, but that's pure intuition.
: SPONDULICKS, SPONDOOLICKS - "n money, wealth. A lighthearted term which was obsolescent by the 1960s (having originated in the USA in the 1850s), but which like other synonyms for money was revived in the 1980s (compare 'rhino,' 'pelf,' etc.). It originated as a learned witticism, borrowing the Greek term, 'spondylikos; pertaining to the 'spondylos,' a seashell used as currency." From the "Dictionary of Contemporary Slang" by Tony Thorne (Pantheon Books, New York, 1990).
This is an interesting speculation, but was Spondylus or any shell called "spondu^los" in Greek ever used as currency? I can't find any definite evidence that it was, but I suppose it doesn't matter as long as whoever coined the word thought it was. But is there better documentation than Partridge's guess?
A better speculation IMHO: "spondu^los" had the primary meaning "vertebra" more or less, and it also meant "tambour" or "drum", i.e., one of the discs or cylinders stacked up to make a pillar in old times ... in other words it had the sense "one of a stack of discs/cylinders". By comparison, at least one book defined "spondulics" in 1867 specifically as "coin piled for counting".