Posted by: Jack Henry | August 27, 2018

Editor’s Corner: Kitty

I recently wrote an article about slush funds, and I received a fascinating tale from one of you readers who used to work in a bank. From Marilyn:

Internal auditors went crazy when they discovered tellers who had a “kitty” for balancing at the end of the day. Bad tellers would hide the amount they were out of balance (if over for the day) and use it for the day they ended up short. One day, the internal auditor found, in her opinion, a large “kitty” (less than $5) that an absent teller had stashed away in her paper clip tray. She gasped and said “Oh boy! Just look at the kitty I found today!”

Why is a teller’s “illegal” fund called a kitty?

I’m familiar with the term “kitty” when playing cards, to refer to the money or chips that people put down for bets. I am guessing that the teller’s stash is being referred to similarly, as a small collection of funds. Let’s see what else we can find out from Merriam-Webster and the Online Etymology Dictionary!

From M-W:

kitty (noun):

1: a small bowl or other receptacle


(1): a fund in a poker game accumulated by taking one or two chips from each large pot and used (as to pay expenses or buy refreshments) for the players

(2): a pool that belongs to all players in a game but that participates in the scoring or settlement of certain hands as though it were a player opposed to the bidder

2b: a sum of money or collection of goods usually accumulated by occasional small contributions and often administered by or for the contributors: pool, fund

<enough in the kitty to make the trip — E. K. Gann>

<a campaign kitty raised by oil and utility companies — Time>

<the ground crew’s kitty of cigarettes — Saul Levitt>

2c: (called) the widow in skat, pinochle, and other games (also called the blind)

And from the Online Etymology Dictionary:

kitty (n.2)

"pool of money in a card game," 1884, American English, of uncertain origin. OED connects it with kit (n.1) in the 19c. sense of "collection of necessary supplies;" but perhaps it is rather from northern England slang kitty "prison, jail, lock-up" (1825), a word itself of uncertain origin.

By the Widow, or as it is more commonly known as "Kitty," is meant a percentage, taken in chips at certain occasions during the game of Poker. This percentage may be put to the account of the club where the game is being played, and defrays the cost of cards, use of chips, gas, attendance, etc. The Kitty may, however, be introduced when no expenses occur. ["The Standard Hoyle," New York, 1887]

I prefer this kind of kitty. One hundred percent legal and extremely tender!

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services

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