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Re: I haven't got a sou/sue/however it's spelt

Posted by James Briggs on April 26, 2001

In Reply to: Re: I haven't got a sou/sue/however it's spelt posted by Bruce Kahl on April 26, 2001

: : : : There is a French expression "Je n'ai pas un sou" and I'm sure I've heard of this as an English phrase. My French teacher doesn't believe me so I could do with some support if anyone else has heard of the expression - any help on it's origin would be of help - presumably we nicked it from the French as it's old French money?

: : : : Thanks

: : : I've heard of the phrase in English. I'm in the U.S. but I watch a lot of British TV imports. However, I couldn't find the expression in any of my reference books so far.

: : Just a guess:
: : Could it be "Mais je n'ai pas un sou"??

: : It sorta means "I dont even have a penny".

: I hit the wrong key before I was finished.

: Here in the US we have an expression "I/we/they dont have a pot to pee in".
: maybe?

I've been familiar with this saying in London since I was a child in the 1930s. It's spelt 'sou' and is, as suggested, a French unit of money - a very small amount, a tenth of a centime I believe. Thus, a very small amount indeed. I guess it could have entered the language when the troops came home from the Western front in WW1.