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The Origin of Words Standing for Money

The origin of words relating to money and commerce are interesting and instructive.

The word money is from moneta (Money) because in Rome coins were first regularly struck in the temple of Juno Moneta, which was derived from monere (to warn) because it was built on the spot where Manlius heard the Gauls approaching to the attack on the city. Coin is probably from the Latin cuneus, a die or stamp.

Many coins are probably so called from their weight. For instance the English pound, was originally the value of one pound (weight) of sterling silver (hence "pound sterling"). The Pound sign ("") or symbol is taken from libra, the Latin word for Pondus or pound.  The word shilling seems to be derived from a root signifying to divide.

The word Sterling is said to go back to the time of the conquest. Some have supposed that it was first attributed to coins struck at Stirling a city in central Scotland. Others suggest that it has reference to German merchants.

In Italy, prior to the adoption of the Euro as its currency, the Pound sign ("") symbol was used as an alternative to the same with a double central line ("₤"), to represent money in Lira's.

The Rupee is the common name for the currencies used in countries such as India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Nepal. The origin of the word rupee also means silver. The livre tournois (or Tournoise pound) was one of numerous currencies used in France in the Middle Ages. The French franc was a coin first minted in 1360 and is an abbreviation of the inscription Francorum Rex.

The dollar, or thaler, is short for the Joachimsthaler, or money of the Joachims valley in Bohemia where coins were struck in the 16th century. The Guinea coin of 1663 was the first British machine-struck gold coin. Guinea was not an official name for the coin, but much of the gold used to produce the early coins came from Guinea in Africa.

The denarious or denary is a decimal numeral system has ten as its base. It is the most widely used numeral system, probably because humans commonly have a total of ten digits on their hands. A penny, pennies or pence is a unit of currency or a coin used in several English-speaking countries. The decimal Half Penny (p) is of British origin.  The sixpence and threepence coin was a pre-decimal coin and worth 1/40 of an Irish pound. Farthing is an old word meaning a quarter. The cent is a monetary unit that equals 1 / 100th of the basic unit of value.

A bit is just one half of two-bits, and two-bits is a quarter of a dollar and four-bits is one half dollar. The word bit is a New Orleans, Louisiana term that was transferred to the western part of the United States during the gold rush of 1849. The Mexican trade dollar was once the unit of trade and was cut into eight bits. So a bit could have been worth 12 1/2 cents and 2 bits a quarter. Some small spanish coins were call a Picayune and Cuartillo. In old New Orleans a word most often used was a Quartee. It's meaning is said to be 2 1/2 cents.


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