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Pounds and quids

Posted by TheFallen on March 21, 2002

In Reply to: Pound posted by R. Berg on March 21, 2002

: : : : : : : : I am interested in the derivation of the word 'dosh ' meaning money.

: : : : : : : : Can anyone help?

: : : : : : : My 1994 Collin's Dictionary says: 'British and Australian slang for money. 20th century. Origin unknown.'
: : : : : : : Hopefully, others can do a bit better! It's not recorded in my copy of the Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.

: : : : : : I also am totally unable to track down any origins for dosh, but perhaps the following observation will soften the blow. We British have a huge number of slang terms for money or cash - to the extent that it's almost improbable. Wih no more than a moment's thought, I offer you the obvious "readies" and "wad", the more bizarre "wonga" and my personal utterly surreal favourite "spondoolicks" (sp?). There'll be plenty more - and this is before we even get into the slang for amounts of cash - monkeys and ponies, bottles, carpets and ladies to start with. But that's for another time.

: : : : : I have never heard the word used in the U.S. I did find it in an American slang reference book, but its origin is unknown. To me it has the sound of "carny talk."

: : : : Eric Partridge (A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English) offers a speculation about its origin:
: : : : DOSH. Money, esp. cash: Australian juvenile: since ca. 1944. . . . Perhaps a blend of "DOllars" + "caSH."

: : : As long as we are on the subject, I'm curious about the word "quid". A quid, for those who aren't British, is a pound. It's sometimes referred to as a "squid" - just for fun as far as I can see. Has it always been a pound? It caused untold panic my first few days in London as I desperately studdied my money trying to find the quids.

: : Always a pound £ (money, not weight) but, sadly, another one with absolutely no known origin.

: Excuse me? The OED says "Originally, a pound weight of silver."

Given that banknotes are effectively promissory notes (to such an extent that UK banknotes still all have "I promise to pay the bearer the sum of x pounds" written upon them and are signed by the chief cashier of the Bank of England), I have always presumed that the word "quid" came directly from the still-used Latin phrase a quid pro quo, something given in exchange for something else.

Ms. Camel would have been even more confused had she come across the fairly recent coinages (no pun intended) of "squiddly" or even "squiddly diddly" to describe the simple pound sterling.

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