Money Slang Special – What’s the meaning of Pound, Quid, Nicker and Squid in British Slang?

In our most recent episodes we are discussing slang words for money! Something key when travelling to a different country or even speaking a new language! Today we will be examining slang words for the British Pound Coin.

The most common slang word used for a pound is a quid, a word I use frequently to the confusion of my Italian friends. A quid is equal to 100 pence, and it is generally believed to come from the Latin phrase “quid pro quo,” which translates into “something for something,” or an equal exchange for goods or services. It is always used in the singular, so one speaks of ‘ten quid’ or ‘fifty quid’, never of ‘quids’. This is pretty widely used throughout the country, but a rather old term.

What is a newer one I hear you ask? Well its the word nicker N-I-C-K-E-R, this term has much stronger London associations and dates from early this century. Not pluralised for a number of pounds, eg:

  • “It cost me twenty nicker”

Its origins stem for the word N-I-C-K, a word we explored some episodes ago. If you have forgotten go back and check it out! As we found out then ‘Nick’ has a wide variety of meanings based on cheating, snatching, and stealing. Maybe, a one pound coin was viewed as an item of currency worth nicking and became known as a nicker.

Last and maybe my favourite slang word for 1 pound is a squid S-Q-U-I-D, yes as in the eight armed sea creature. Not normally pluralised, still expressed as ‘squid’, not squids, e.g., ‘Fifty squid’. The most likely origin of this slang expression is from a joke in 1960-70s about a shark who meets his friend the whale one day, and says:

  • “I’m glad I bumped into you – here’s that squid I owe you..”

So having a squid, quid or a nicker is usually always a good thing, especially if you are on your way to the pub!

Next episode we will be exploring more ways to discuss money in slang, so don’t miss it!

That’s our episode of the day, let’s catch up soon to talk more about slang terms for money. You can find us on our website and from there you can see our transcript and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and many more apps. Or head over to our facebook page for updates and more slang!