The English language is full of slang all about the world of money. Whether we’re using a credit card and putting something ‘on plastic’ or complaining that a new TV will cost you ‘an arm and a leg’, we love getting creative when we’re talking about cash.
Of course, if taken literally, any slang can be confusing for tourists and international students trying to work their way around the local lingo. So, for a bit of fun, we decided to see what slang is used around the world to refer to the coins, notes, and money different countries use.
giffraff teamed up with the award-winning British illustrator, Paul Blow, to create some funny illustrations that show how it literally looks to non-native speakers!
In Germany, you may hear the word “mücken” (mosquitoes) when it comes to talking about cash, though they may also say “kohle” (coal) or “schotter” (gravel).
Spain is one of the many countries that adopted the Euro, meaning a lot of their slang from the days of using pesetas has died out, though “pasta” remains a popular term.
Australians love to get colourful with their slang, calling their $20 note a “red lobster”, and their $5 and $10 notes “pink ladies” and “blue swimmers”, respectively, due to the colours of the notes themselves.
Home of the Krona, the Danish words for their ‘hundred’ and ‘thousand’ notes are shortened down to give their money slang an animal twist. “Hundrede” becomes ‘hund’ (dog) and “tusind” becomes ‘tudse’ (toad)!
Norway also uses the Krona as their currency, though ditches the use of dogs and toads in favour of “gryn” (cereal) and “stål” (steal) to talk about their cash. Their 1,000Kr note is also called “laken” which means ‘bed sheet’.
Americans seems to have food on the brain when it comes to their slang, as you may hear “cheddar”, “dough”, or “clams” used (particularly when enjoying a large windfall).
Food is also a source of some great terms from Russia, who lend both ‘cabbage’ and ‘lemon’ to the conversation.
As we said earlier, we’ve got a wealth of ways to talk about the cash we’re carrying. One of our personal favourites is ‘squids’, though that could paint an unusual picture for anyone unfamiliar with it.