Money may be recognised as a universal language, but new research has found seven in 10 Brits (70 per cent) aren’t sure what the different slang terms for it actually mean. The research from money-sharing app Pingit revealed a further 59 per cent become confused over the denomination each slang term refers to, perhaps thanks to the more than 80 different words used to describe currency.
The most recognisable slang words regularly spoken across the nation are ‘notes’ (51 per cent), ‘dosh’ (48 per cent), and ‘coin’ (47 per cent), whilst weird and wonderful phrases like ‘spondulixs’ (reasonable amount of money) (16 per cent), ‘Lady Godiva’ (fiver) (11 per cent), and ‘Arthur Ashe’ (cash) (9 per cent) were the terms the public recognised, but were least likely to use.
Of the words that leave us feeling confused, ‘rhino’ tops the list with nearly half (49 per cent) stating they are in the dark by its meaning. This is followed by ‘Pavarotti’ (49 per cent), and ‘marigold’ (48 per cent).
How our ‘change’ is changing
Nearly half (47 per cent) of Brits think the language of money is evolving, with 28 per cent agreeing that as new words for money are created, historical or traditional words fall by the wayside. Where once varying food vocabulary was used as slang for money, it’s no picnic trying to understand these now as over two-thirds (68 per cent) of us haven’t heard of the terms ‘cheddar’, ‘bacon’ (60 per cent) and ‘biscuits’ (74 per cent).
Three in ten (30 per cent) people also believe the evolution of money and payments over the past 10 years has impacted the words they use every day, for example, when they speak about ‘tapping’ for payment or ‘pinging over’ money. The changing of the linguistic guard also looks set to continue as 41 per cent believe we will have different words for money and payments in 20 years’ time as technology continues to evolve.
There’s a time and a place
As technology brings new words in, older words are falling out of favour with younger age groups, with ‘tuppence’ used by 54 per cent of people aged over 55 compared to just 16 per cent of 18-24-year olds. Three in ten (31 per cent) people within the younger generation deem phrases such as ‘writing a cheque’ or ‘swipe your card’ as old-fashioned, compared to just two in ten (19 per cent) amongst all age groups.
Brits also use different slang terms by region. Whilst ‘notes’, ‘coin’ and ‘dosh’ are used across the nation, local favourites unique to each area include ‘bob’ (42 per cent) in Yorkshire, ‘tuppence’ (41 per cent) in the South West, ‘wedge’ (39 per cent) in London, ‘bucks’ (35 per cent) in Scotland and ‘copper’ (35 per cent) in East Anglia.
A tricky topic
Despite the many words for money, the research showed that 66 per cent of us don’t like talking about it and a further 45 per cent find the process awkward. However, more than half of Brits (54 per cent) say using slang words for money makes them feel more confident when discussing dosh.
To help Brits clue up on the language of lolly, Pingit has teamed up with lexicographer Susie Dent, known for hosting Dictionary Corner on Channel 4’s Countdown, to aid the public in deciphering their ‘monkeys’ from their ‘moolah’.
Susie Dent said: “New technology has certainly accelerated the speed at which slang moves on – and slang was already the fastest-moving area of language. Slang has different functions: many of the words we use are playful and a lot are tribal; we speak the same way as the groups we are part of. A great deal are also euphemistic, so it’s no surprise that a third of us are perplexed by their meanings and origins. Almost half the adult population finds discussing the subject of money difficult. Slang words help us to navigate these conversations by making us feel more comfortable and confident.”
The most confusing slang words for money:
Darren Foulds, Managing Director of Pingit, said: “From the moment it was introduced, money created social relationships – from bartering with one another in ancient times to transferring funds amongst friends and businesses in modern day. It’s no surprise, then, that we’ve developed a rich vocabulary to make our conversations more light-hearted and fun. Whether we discuss the ‘dosh’, nag about the ‘notes’ or ask a pal to ‘ping it over’, one thing is clear: as long as money and payments evolve, the language we use around it will continue to develop in weird and wonderful ways.”
The findings were released by Pingit, an app that facilitates easy peer-to-peer payments with just a mobile number. For more information visit www.pingit.com or download the app.