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Main Dictionary Q


Quid is an alternative name of the pound sterling, which is the national currency in the United Kingdom. One pound of sterling is called a quid and corresponds to one hundred pence. Now this phrase is slang, by all accounts a quid has its origins in the Latin expression “quid pro quo”, which stands for “something for something,” also the term states a situation in which two sides come to an agreement in which they have to reciprocate commodities or services. Despite this, it is still unclear what connection the word quid has with the British currency.

Origin of Quid

The word quid (the slang variant for one pound sterling as stated above) began to be used more than three hundred years ago, however, there isn’t enough evidence to say for sure in which relations the pound sterling and a quid. It’s believed by some experts that the word came with Italian immigrants and “scudo,” which referred to different gold and silver coins used in Italy between the sixteenth century and the nineteenth century.

The other theory states that a long time ago a Royal Mint paper mill was located in a place called Quidhampton. Therefore, there is a high possibility that workers called all produced paper money a quid. Despite a mystery that surrounds the expression’s origin, a quid still remains one of the oldest currencies in the world and has in total more than twelve centuries of history. In present days the United Kingdom goes into the list of countries that don’t have euro as a national currency.

Historical background

The history of the pound sterling took its origin in 775 AD, that time silver pennies that Anglo-Saxons utilized as currency were called sterlings. 240 such coins weighed one pound, thus, a person had one pound of sterlings and a name “pound sterling” appeared. As the name is closely tied with weight its sign is also connected with it. The “L” symbol or £ symbol from the Latin expression Libra Pondo which literally means pound weight.

The standard for the pound sterling of 240 pence existed more than one thousand years before in 1971 the British Parliament established decimalization. Since then, a new standard where one pound comprised 100 pence appeared. 

The history of using the pound sterling was quite long, nevertheless, there were no real coins for it. That’s why in 1489 a special coin was authorized and named a sovereign. Also, it should be noted that in some British colonies the pound has the role of a national currency as well.

One pound comprises 20 shillings and one shilling comprises twelve pence, shillings were started to mint in 1504. 1560 was the year when golden coins were begun to mint. During the period 775 AD and 1971 coins of Britain went through all types of denominations. Thus, many coins changed their names and many new kinds appeared. Some of them don't exist anymore, some of them turned into banknotes.

Bills or banknotes

Bills in the UK firstly were produced in the seventeenth century right after the Bank of England was established in 1964. The principal difference from the current banknotes is that the old ones were handwritten. Before grave inflation a 10-pound note was the most frequently used banknote, however, once inflation started and prices dramatically increased the five-pound notes were introduced. After a silver standard was replaced with a gold standard the phrase “pound sterling” turned archaic until the beginning of the twentieth century. Current pound sterling doesn’t contain any silver. 

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