Ever Colourful Australian Currency Slang Nicknames.

There is nothing Australians seem to like more than to shorten words or phrases to something more instantly recognisable within the local dialect. Colloquialisms abound in the land down under and some of them are very humorous indeed. This abbreviation of terms applies to most things which understandably includes the currency of the land.

A great deal of the currency nicknames have come across from the United Kingdom when Australians used the coin of the realm. True to Aussie form however we have come up with our own fair share of colloquial tags. Australia has always benefited from the rich diversity of its people who have brought with them their own language and sayings. It is undoubtedly a very colourful country especially from the point of view of its vocabulary.

Looking back to a time before decimalisation in 1966 we had pounds, shillings and pence as our currency. The denominations therein had a huge variety of nicknames which were in the main derived from their British equivalent. Here are some early pre-decimal examples.

The coinage of the time had some notable names with the words:

Image of an Australian Six Pence Coin

Australian Six Pence Coin

The Sixpence – 6d – was often referred to as a ‘zack’ which was an Australian / New Zealand term which referred to a coin of small denomination such as a sixpence or 5 cent coin. The term was also used to refer to short prison term such as 6 months.

Image of an Australian One Shilling Coin

Australian One Shilling Coin

One Shilling – 1/ – A Bob

.

Image of an Australian Two Shillings Coin

Australian Two Shillings Coin / Florin

Two Shillings or Florin – 2/ – Two Bob.

.

Image of an Australian Ten Shillings paper banknote

Australian Ten Shillings paper banknote

Ten Shillings – 10/ – Ten Bob, Half a Quid, a Teddy or Half a Fiddly (derived from the one pound slang)

.

Image of an Australian One Pound paper banknote

Australian One Pound paper banknote

One Pound – £1 – Quid, Fiddly or Saucepan (rhyming slang for saucepan lid). The term quid from what I have found seems to be derived from the Latin word where quid means ‘what’ as in ‘quid pro quo’ to give something for something else. The word Quid was also used in connection to multiple pounds eg: 5 quid etc.

.

Image of an Australian Five Pounds paper banknote

Australian Five Pounds paper banknote

Five Pounds – £5 – Fiver, Deep Sea Diver or Spin
With the advent of decimalisation in 1966 and a range of all new notes to play with the locals had a field day.

.

Image of an Australian One Dollar paper banknote

Australian One Dollar paper banknote

One Dollar – $1 – Brown Bomber, Rooboy, Queenie + Bung buck (highly insulting term referring to the indigenous people depicted thereon.) The buck part coming from the American slang for their one dollar note. Oxford Scholar hailing back to the rhyming slang of our English roots.

.

Image of an Australian Two Dollars paper banknote

Australian Two Dollars paper banknote

Two Dollars – $2 – Sick Sheep (reference the green colour and the merino ram thereon) and Greenback borrowed from the U.S. slang

.

Image of an Australian Five Dollars paper banknote

Australian Five Dollars paper banknote

Image of an Australian Five Dollars polymer banknote

Australian Five Dollars polymer banknote

Five Dollars – $5 – Fiver, Skydiver, Pink Lady, Prawn, Piglet & Rasher (as in bacon due to reddish pink and white colouration)

.

Image of an Australian Ten Dollars paper banknote

Australian Ten Dollars paper banknote

Image of an Australian Ten Dollars polymer banknote

Australian Ten Dollars polymer banknote

Ten Dollars – $10 – Blue Swimmer, Blue Heeler (name of a cattle dog), Tenner, Pav (this derived from Pavarotti from the Three Tenors- hint:  tenners), a Banjo (from the picture of A.B. “Banjo” Paterson thereon and Ayrton Senna (rhyming slang for tenner).

.

Image of an Australian Twenty Dollars paper banknote

Australian Twenty Dollars paper banknote

Image of an Australian Twenty Dollars polymer banknote

Australian Twenty Dollars polymer banknote

Twenty Dollars – $20 – Red Lobster or just Lobster, Redback & Rusky (all terms pertaining to the red colouration of the note and that of  the Soviet flag).

.

An Australian Fifty Dollars paper bank note

An Australian Fifty Dollars paper bank note

An Australian Fifty Dollars polymer bank note

An Australian Fifty Dollars polymer bank note

Fifty Dollars – $50 – Pineapple, McGarrett (after the lead character from T.V’s Hawaii 5-0 series / Book ‘em Danno), Yellow Peril and Banana.

.

Image of an Australian One Hundred Dollars paper banknote

Australian One Hundred Dollars paper banknote

One Hundred Dollars – $100 – Original Paper Note – Grey Nurse (after the shark), Ghost & Bradman ( referring to Donald Bradman’s 99.94 test cricket batting average) .

.

Image of an Australian One Hundred Dollars polymer banknote

Australian One Hundred Dollars polymer banknote

One Hundred Dollars – $100 – Polymer Note – Jolly Green Giant, Green Soldier (Monash portrait), Avocado, Watermelon, Tree Frog & Peppermint.

All in all a rather colorful collective of terms for the monetary items we take for granted in everyday life. If anyone out here has any further terms they would like to add I would be happy to edit this with their name included as source.

PinterestTumblrFacebookTwitterGoogle+StumbleUponDiggEmailShare

7 Comments

  • Julian de Tours says:

    I’ve heard the $20 referred to as a “piece of salmon” or just a “salmon” because of the colour.

  • Michael Swan says:

    The twenty dollar note was also referred to as a “brick” due to its colour.
    A shilling was also called a Dinar.

  • Hello exceptional website! Does running a blog like this require a great deal of work?
    I’ve virtually no knowledge of programming however I had been hoping to start
    my own blog in the near future. Anyhow, should you have any recommendations or tips for new blog owners please share.

    I understand this is off topic however I simply had to ask.
    Appreciate it!

  • Chouce says:

    Hey there! Someone in my Myspace group shared this website with us so I came to
    check it out. I’m definitely loving the information. I’m bookmarking
    and will be tweeting this to my followers! Exceptional blog and fantastic
    style and design.

  • Letha says:

    Very shortly this website will be famous among all blogging and site-building visitors,
    due to it’s good content

  • Richard says:

    Not sure if you would consider this inappropriate, but today I heard the old paper 100 dollar note referred as the “wanker”. This is a reference to the Paul Hogan’s stun man alter-ego, Leo Wanker. A character from the Paul Hogan Show, which was on air roughly the same time as the paper 100 dollar note went into circulation.

    • LOL, yes I was in high school when that was on air… I guess at the end of the day Leo could almost have replaced Monash. I have never heard the reference before but it sure makes sense. Thanks for the comment mate.

Leave a Reply


*