DEFINITION of 'Demonetization'
Demonetization is the act of stripping a currency unit of its status as legal tender. Demonetization is necessary whenever there is a change of national currency. The old unit of currency must be retired and replaced with a new currency unit.
BREAKING DOWN 'Demonetization'
A recent example of demonetization occurred when the nations of the European Monetary Union adopted the euro. In order to switch to the euro, authorities first fixed exchange rates for the varied national currencies into euros. When the euro was introduced, the old national currencies were demonetized. However, the old currencies remained convertible into euros for a while so that a smooth transition through demonetization would be assured.