What Is a Quid?

What Is a Quid?

"Quid" is a slang expression for the British pound sterling, or the British pound (GBP), the currency of the United Kingdom (U.K.). A quid is equal to 100 pence, 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. However, the exact etymology of the word relating to the British pound is still uncertain.

Key Takeaways

  • "Quid" is a slang expression for the British pound sterling, or the British pound (GBP), the currency of the United Kingdom (U.K.).
  • A quid equals 100 pence and is believed to come from the Latin phrase “quid pro quo,” meaning "something for something."
  • The quid, as it describes one pound sterling, is thought to have first come into use sometime in the late 17th century.
  • In 1489, under Henry VII's rule, it was initially called a sovereign.
  • The modern-day pound sterling is no longer comprised of silver.

Understanding the Quid

The quid, as it describes one pound sterling, is thought to have come into use sometime in the late 17th century, but no one is quite certain why this word became synonymous with the British currency. Some scholars believe that Italian immigrants may have originated the word thanks to "scudo," the name for gold and silver coins of various denominations that were used in Italy from the 16th century through the 19th century.

Another possibility is that the word traces back to Quidhampton, a village in Wiltshire, England, that once was home to a Royal Mint paper mill. Any paper money made in this mill might have been called a quid. Although the word’s origin continues to be a mystery, the pound sterling has a rich history of more than 12 centuries as the world's oldest currency still in use.

The U.K. is made up of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.

History of the Pound Sterling

Historians trace the pound sterling back to 775 A.D., when Anglo-Saxon kings used silver pennies, called sterlings, as currency. Someone who collected 240 of them had 1 pound of sterlings, hence the name "pound sterling.” In Latin, Libra means " weight," and Libra Pondo translates to pound weight, which is why the British pound bears a fancy "L" or £ symbol.

Two hundred forty pence in one pound sterling remained the standard for nearly 1,200 years until 1971. This was when the British Parliament instituted decimalization to make 100 pence equal to one pound sterling.

An actual pound coin, called a sovereign, did not exist until 1489, when Henry VII was king. In addition to the United Kingdom, the British pound has previously served as currency in many of the colonies of the British Empire, including Australia, New Zealand, and Canada.

Shillings were first minted in 1504, with 12 pence in 1 shilling and 20 shillings in one pound. Gold coins started in 1560. Between 775 A.D. and 1971, British coins were made into many denominations. Some of these coins were called pennies, halfpennies, farthings, half-crowns, and double-florins. Other coins included groats, threepenny bits, and twopence. Most of these denominations are no longer in circulation, while others became banknotes.

History of Banknotes and Coins

English banknotes were created during the rule of King William III after he started the Bank of England in 1694. They were handwritten at that time. The main bill in use during that time was a 10-pound note. However, a lengthy period of severe inflation or rising prices later forced the monarchy to issue five-pound notes. By 1717, the term "pound sterling" became nearly obsolete when Europe moved from the silver standard to the gold standard.

Contemporary pound sterling, whether in coins or bills, has no silver even though it retains the word often associated with silver, "sterling."

Currently, the U.K.. has eight coins and four notes circulating:

  • 1 penny
  • 2 pence
  • 5 pence
  • 10 pence
  • 20 pence
  • 50 pence
  • £1 coin
  • £2 coin
  • £5 note
  • £10 note
  • £20 note
  • £50 note

Other British Monetary Slang Terms

Quid is only one of the more common slang terms for the British pound—interestingly, there is no plural form of the word. It is simply "quid," not "quids." Here are a few more terms used to refer to the pound:

  • Smacker—add an "s" to use the plural
  • Fiver, for the £5 note
  • Tenner, for the £10 note
  • Dosh—no plural

What Is a Quid Meaning?

A quid is an alternative term for the British sterling pound, the official currency of the United Kingdom. Although its exact origin is unknown, historians date its use back to 775 A.D when sovereign leaders used silver coins.

How Much Is a Quid in Dollars?

The value of one quid in U.S. Dollars as of 9/16/2022 was $1.14. Supply and demand cause the monetary exchange rate to fluctuate. Therefore, the value of one quid in U.S. Dollars will also fluctuate.

How Many Pounds Is a Quid?

A quid equals £1, or one pound sterling.

What Is a Quid vs. a Pound?

Quid is a slang term for the pound sterling issued by the United Kingdom. Pound is the name of the currency issued by the U.K., like "dollar" is for the currency issued by the U.S.

The Bottom Line

The pound sterling is regarded as the oldest currency still in use today. It is often referred to by its nickname, quid, of whose origins are lost to time. Quid is a slang term for the U.K. currency, and can be used to refer to any amount of currency. However, there is no plural term, so any reference to an amount of U.K currency using the term is "quid" as opposed to "quids."

Article Sources
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  1. World Economic Forum. "A Short History of the British Pound."

  2. Government of the Netherlands. "Which Countries Make Up the United Kingdom?"

  3. BBC. "A short history of the pound."

  4. World Economic Forum. "A Short History of the Britich Pound."

  5. The Royal Mint. "UK's Circulating Coin Mintage Figures."

  6. Bank of England. "Current Banknotes."

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