Money Slang Special – What’s the meaning of Pony and Monkey in British Slang?

You are listening to our fourth and final episode specialising on slang and money!

Ok on to our next slang term for money… a pony. I can hear you asking me- Louisa why are we now talking about a baby horse? Spelt the same P-O-N-Y pony actually means 25 pounds.

The word has been traced back from the late 18th century in London and has a vast range of suggestions for its etymology. By some it has been suggested that in the 18th century £25 was the typical price paid for a small horse, although historians have contested this is not accurate and far too much money.

Others have suggested that an Indian twenty-five rupee banknote featured a pony, therefore this image was also connection to the cash amount.

A final claim is that pony might derive from the Latin words ‘legem pone’, which means, ‘payment of money, cash down’ which begins on the March 25, a quarter day in the old financial calendar, when payments and debts came due.

Our last slang term for money and again animal related we have a monkey M-O-N-K-E-Y, no not the animal but actually meaning 500 pounds.

While this London centric slang is entirely British, it actually stems from 19th century India. The term was coined by British soldiers returning from India where the 500 rupee note of that era had a picture of a monkey on it. They used the term monkey for 500 rupees and on returning to England the saying was converted to sterling to mean £500.

That’s the end of our money series so remember to tune in for our next episode to see what new slang we have in store for you!

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