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Money for old rope

Posted by Bruce Kahl on July 09, 2000

In Reply to: Money for old rope posted by Bob on July 09, 2000

: In my latest crossword puzzle (and IF I unscrambled the anagram properly) I found "money for old rope" as a metaphor for easy profits. Is this a Britishism? Never heard it in the States. Origin?

Pasted from a web site. Yes, UK:

Several hundred years ago, the term 'Money for old rope' used to mean literally that: good cash paid for rope which is not quite as young as it seems. Or put another way, rope which is as old as the hills, cunningly disguised as something else. In the Middle Ages, the rope trade was big business; rope was a fact of life and it was there to stay. You needed rope for everything: houses, ships, carts, clothes and tying up witches so they could be reliably dunked in the village pond. Rope was where it was at and demand for rope based products was booming.