Posted by James Briggs on April 26, 2001
In Reply to: 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".
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.