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The biggest shilling

Posted by Victoria S Dennis on March 08, 2010 at 09:01

In Reply to: The biggest shilling posted by James Briggs on February 26, 2010 at 10:44:

: : My husband tells me he'd never heard the phrase 'the biggest shilling' before I used it tonight (and we've been married over 30 years!). It's not listed on this site but does anyone else know it? It means the biggest amount e.g. perhaps if choosing between 2 jobs you might say 'I might as well get the biggest shilling', meaning I might as well go for the one that pays the most. My husband says it must be a north London thing, as that's where my family come from.

: I was raised in east London and I've never heard the expression. My guess is that it may be related to the old military saying of 'taking the King's shilling' when someone joined the British army.

I was reared in west London and I've never heard it either. But I don't see any necessary connection to "the King's shilling". The point about "taking the King's shilling" was that once you had accepted pay from the King, even a single shilling, you were committed to the Army and couldn't change your mind. (VSD)