What is a 'Currency Symbol'

A currency symbol is a graphical representation substituted for the name of a currency, which is usually unique to a specific country or region. These shorthand currency identifiers, which the International Organization For Standardization (ISO) maintains, often appear instead of formal currency names in international and domestic markets.

BREAKING DOWN 'Currency Symbol'

The use of a currency symbol denotes that a value or number is monetary. Many of the symbols for the most frequently written and traded currencies have symbols with a basis on the Roman alphabet. The use of slashes and crossbars help to differentiate letters from monetary symbols.

Currency symbols are not unique to all national currencies. However, those currencies which have a symbol give the impression of being more stable and having a higher status. Some currencies, such as the U.S. dollar (USD), $, and the British pound sterling (GBP) have become instantly recognizable around the world by their currency symbol. The GBP uses the designation £, and of course, the USD uses the $ symbol. 

Artistic Design of Currency Symbols

In 2009, the Indian government aimed to raise the status of its currency, the rupee, by assigning it a currency symbol. The Indian Ministry of Finance announced it would accept idea submission from the public. The submitted symbols should represent the historical and cultural ethos of the country as widely accepted across the country. The winning design, ₹, was introduced by Udaya Kumar Dharmalingam, a professor of design at Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati.

Many view the symbol for the euro, €, as a design and public-relations success. The logo has become recognizable around the world. However, people dispute who the actual designer of the symbol was. The European Commission won’t divulge the name of the author. Many assume Belgian graphic designer Alain Billiet is responsible, but Arthur Eisenmenger, a former chief graphic designer for the European Economic Community, claims the idea was his.

All the Dollar Symbols In the World

The dollar symbol, $, is perhaps the most recognizable in the world, and is the name of more than twenty currencies around the globe, including the United States, Australia, Canada and Hong Kong. The word dollar can be traced back to Bohemia in the 16th century, and people used it to describe money in many places throughout Europe, including Spain. At one time, many thought that the $ symbol grew from the use of the number 8 on Spanish pieces of eight coins. This belief is no longer accepted, and now, the accepted origin is from early Spanish writings. Early scribes would sometimes abbreviate peso by writing Ps

The use of the $ symbol designates multiple currencies including those in the U.S., Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Bermuda, and other national currencies. An added prefix helps to identify the particular money in reference. As an example the Singaporean dollar uses S$, Zimbabwe dollar uses Z$, and the Canadian dollar uses Can$.

History of the British Pound Currency Symbol

The British Pound sterling, symbolized by £, was the currency which dominated the global economy before the U.S. dollar. The symbol for the pound sterling resembles a capital "L" because of the Latin word libra, which means scales or balance. Monetary nomenclature is often related weights and measures, as well as precious metals like gold or silver. The original value of the pound sterling was against silver. King Henry II introduced a coin struck from 92.5% silver, which is a purity grade known today as sterling silver.

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