Posted by: Jack Henry | July 20, 2021

Editor’s Corner: Sawbucks and Honey Buns

Good morning!

As the credit card bills from vacation roll in, I thought it would be timely to discuss some of the slang I use when I open the envelopes. No, not the horrible language I shout for overspending, but slang for the American dollar. This is part of the list from Daily Writing Tips.

§ Big ones: multiples of one thousand dollars

§ Bones: dollars (origin unknown)

§ Bucks: dollars (perhaps from a reference to buckskins, or deerskins, which were once used as currency)

§ Cabbage: paper money (from its color)

§ Cs (or C-notes): multiples of one hundred dollars (from the Roman symbol for “one hundred”)

§ Doubles (or dubs): twenty-dollar bills

§ Large: thousand-dollar bills

§ Lettuce: paper money (from its color)

§ Long green: paper money (from its shape and color)

§ Nickel: five dollars (by multiplication of the value of the five-cent coin)

§ Quarter: twenty-five dollars (by multiplication of the value of the twenty-five-cent coin)

§ Sawbucks: ten-dollar bills (from the resemblance of X, the Roman symbol for ten, to a sawbuck, or sawhorse)

§ Scratch: money (perhaps from the idea that one has to struggle as if scratching the ground to obtain it)

§ Simoleons: dollars (perhaps from a combination of simon, slang for the British sixpence and later the American dollar, and napoleon, a form of French currency)

§ Singles: one-dollar bills

§ Skrilla: money (origin unknown)

§ Smackers: dollars (origin unknown)

§ Spondulix: money (either from spondylus, a Greek word for a shell once used as currency, or from the prefix spondylo-, which means “spine” or “vertebra”; these have a common etymology)

§ Stacks: multiples of a thousand dollars

§ Two bits: twenty-five cents (a reference to pieces of eight, divisible sections of a Mexican real, or dollar)

§ Yards: one hundred dollars

While reading through these slang words, I looked for some additional information on one of them, and found a ton of information on Wikipedia, but this was the section that related the most to the items from Daily Writing Tips.

  • $1 bill is sometimes called a "single," a "buck," or a "simoleon.” The dollar has also been referred to as a "bean" or "bone" (e.g. twenty bones is equal to $20).
  • $2 bill is sometimes referred to as a "deuce".
  • $5 bill has been referred to as a "fin", "fiver" or "five-spot".
  • $10 bill is a "sawbuck", a "ten-spot", or a "Hamilton".
  • $20 bill as a "Jackson", or a "dub", or a "double sawbuck".
  • Among horse-race gamblers, the $50 bill is called a "frog" and is considered unlucky. It is sometimes referred to as a "Grant."
  • $100 bill is occasionally "C-note" (C being the Roman numeral for 100, from the Latin word centum) or "century note"; it can also be referred to as a "Benjamin" or "Benny" (after Benjamin Franklin, who is pictured on the note), or a "yard" (so $300 is "3 yards" and a $50 bill is a "half a yard"). "A rack" is $1,000 in the form of ten $100 bills, banded by a bank or otherwise.
  • Amounts above $1000 US dollars are occasionally referred to as "large" ("twenty large" being $20,000, etc.). In slang, a thousand dollars may also be referred to as a "grand" or "G", "K" (as in kilo), or less commonly a "stack", a "bozo", as well as a "band". For example, "The repairs to my car cost me a couple grand" or "The repairs to my car cost me a couple [of] stacks".
  • $100,000 US dollars is called a "brick" or a "honey bun".

I realized my go-to term for money is buck or bucks, such as, “How could they charge five bucks for a glass of water?” After growing up next to Canada, I know they call their dollar coin a Loonie, but what other slang terms are out there? Anybody know slang for Euros? Or did you grow up in another country and learn different names for the country’s currency? I wonder if other places use food terms like us? For example, we use cheese, lettuce, and bread or dough when referring to money…do they refer to the pesos in Mexico as “queso, lechuga, y pan”? If anyone has anything they want to share—I’m all ears (or eyes).

Have a lovely day. May it be full of C-notes and honey buns.

Kara Church

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Technical Editor, Advisory

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