View Full Version : Why is Quid Slang For Pound?

02-18-2010, 10:17 AM
OK pound is a basic unit of British money, I often hear the term quid, which is slang for a pound?

But why?

Quid is one syllable and so is pound. So it's not shorter to say. It's only a difference of one letter so it's not that much shorter to write out.

I was thinking maybe pound for currency can be confused with pound for weights, at least in the old days before conversion to metric.

Any ideas how quid became to mean pound?

02-18-2010, 10:24 AM
There are some explanations here (http://www.businessballs.com/moneyslanghistory.htm).

Fake Tales of San Francisco
02-18-2010, 10:26 AM
I always assumed it was from the Latin phrase Quid pro quo (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quid_pro_quo). The phrase itself means 'something for something', so definitely makes sense in context.

Quid is used as a plural. I find it much easier to say 'fifty quid' than 'fifty pounds'. But then, not all slang is necessarily shorter. See Cockney rhyming slang.

02-18-2010, 10:36 AM
It comes from the nineteenth century phrase "Quite Useful In Deals".

Just kidding. Beware of acronym-based etymologies, kids.

Elendil's Heir
02-18-2010, 11:07 AM
There are some explanations here (http://www.businessballs.com/moneyslanghistory.htm).

I looked through there but couldn't find a reference to "quid."

02-18-2010, 11:12 AM
I looked through there but couldn't find a reference to "quid."

Odd. There's an actual entry there for "quid." Perhaps the page didn't load up fully for you. Anyhow, here's the relevant part:

quid - one pound (£1) or a number of pounds sterling. Plural uses singular form, eg., 'Fifteen quid is all I want for it..', or 'I won five hundred quid on the horses yesterday..'. The slang money expression 'quid' seems first to have appeared in late 1600s England, derived from Latin (quid meaning 'what', as in 'quid pro quo' - 'something for something else'). Other intriguing possible origins/influences include a suggested connection with the highly secretive Quidhampton banknote paper-mill, and the term quid as applied (ack D Murray) to chewing tobacco, which are explained in more detail under quid in the cliches, words and slang page.

And there is more info in the words and slang page. (http://www.businessballs.com/clichesorigins.htm#quid%20slang%20word%20origins)

Elendil's Heir
02-18-2010, 11:23 AM
Ah, thanks.

02-18-2010, 02:29 PM
I'm pretty sure the Quidhampton thing is a joke, btw. Some sites claim that the Royal Mint was once located there, but AFAIK it has only ever been sited in London or South Wales, near Cardiff, its present location. I can find no evidence of there ever being a paper mill in Quidhampton. Not that bank notes are actually made of paper, of course.

02-18-2010, 02:39 PM
OK, apparently there is another Quidhampton in Hampshire, not far from a place called Laverstoke, where bank notes were indeed manufactured. But since other larger and more well-known towns such as Whitchurch and Overton are nearer to Laverstoke, it seems unlikely that an obscure village such as Quidhampton would be associated with the bank notes.

Tom Tildrum
02-18-2010, 03:04 PM
Cockney rhyming slang: Pounds sterling -- squids curling.

What? Maybe it's true. Come up with a better one then.

02-18-2010, 03:17 PM
Nah, it would be something like quid -> quid pro quo -> dough.

Fake Tales of San Francisco
02-18-2010, 06:20 PM
Pound sterling is also known as 'nicker', which is two syllables. I believe it may be more popular slang in the north of England, but I can't be certain. Don't have a clue what the etymology of that could be.

02-19-2010, 04:15 AM
I like the expression, 'cos someone can say to me " 'Ere, lend us a quid" and I can say "I'm sorry, I don't chew tobacco".

02-19-2010, 10:23 AM
What's a "Bob"?

Maybe a shilling? Not sure.

02-19-2010, 10:56 AM
What's a "Bob"?

Maybe a shilling? Not sure.

Bob's your uncle...

Maybe it's Quid Pro Quo because that's what the real pros charged.

There's the joke that when the current one pound coin was introduced, they said it should be called a "thatcher" - because it's thick and brassy and thinks its a sovereign.

02-19-2010, 12:15 PM
I like the expression, 'cos someone can say to me " 'Ere, lend us a quid" and I can say "I'm sorry, I don't chew tobacco".

That would be funny. Have you considered a career in stand-up? ;)

02-19-2010, 02:59 PM
What's a "Bob"?

Maybe a shilling? Not sure.

Yes, it was a shilling. Shillings don't exist any more, of course, but people might still say "bob" sometimes. It provides a chance to confuse the younger people and it sounds more satisfying if, for instance, complaining about the price of things these days. :)

And an old sixpence was a "tanner" but I don't know where that came from.

02-19-2010, 04:26 PM

And an old sixpence was a "tanner" but I don't know where that came from.

Some suggestions from the cite quoted above by pulykamell:

tanner - sixpence (6d). The slang word 'tanner' meaning sixpence dates from the early 1800s and is derived most probably from Romany gypsy 'tawno' meaning small one, and Italian 'danaro' meaning small change. The 'tanner' slang was later reinforced (Ack L Bamford) via jocular reference to a biblical extract about St Peter lodging with Simon, a tanner (of hides). The biblical text (from Acts chapter 10 verse 6) is: "He (Peter) lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side..", which was construed by jokers as banking transaction instead of a reference to overnight accommodation. Below in more money history Nick Ratnieks suggests the tanner was named after a Master of the Mint of that name. A further suggestion (ack S Kopec) refers to sixpence being connected with pricing in the leather trade. I have no other evidence of this and if anyone has any more detail relating to the derivation of the tanner please send it. An obscure point of nostalgic trivia about the tanner is (thanks J Veitch) a rhyme, from around the mid-1900s, sung to the tune of Rule Britannia: "Rule Brittania, two tanners make a bob, three make eighteen pence and four two bob…" I am informed also since mentioning this here (thanks to the lady from London) who recalls her father signing the rhyme in the 1950s, in which the words 'one-and-sixpence' were used instead of 'eighteen pence'. If you remember more please tell me.

Very interesting cite too, I never knew the new coin design made a shield when positioned as shown in that link.