22 Slang Terms for Money

These fun and fascinating slang terms for cash will have you seeing green.

Ka-ching! / Daniel Grizelj/DigitalVision/Getty Images

Money! We’d all like more of it, whether you’re a lowly pauper or billionaire supervillain. Unfortunately, reading this article won’t boost your bank account—but it will make your vocabulary richer. There are numerous slang terms for money, probably because the topic is often hush-hush. Slang speaks about what we’re not supposed to discuss: topics like sex, drugs, death, and fat stacks of Benjamins.


Since at least the 1300s, muck has referred to moolah, specifically, as the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) puts it, “Worldly wealth, money, esp. regarded as sordid, corrupting, etc.” Anthony Trollope’s 1864 book Can You Forgive Her shows the term in use: “I remarked that his mind seemed to be intent on low things, and specially named the muck … ‘Money’s never dirty,’ she said.”


Close up of clams in hands
‘Clams’ is a slang term for money. / Crispin la valiente/Moment/Getty Images

A clam is a buck—that is, an American dollar. This meaning has been around since the late 1800s. Ethyl Merman, in her 1955 book Who Could Ask for Anything More? used this fishy term: “The custom-made department of the joint made me a bonnet ... It cost me seventy-five clams, and I wore it only twice.” That’s a bonnet bummer.


Similar to muck, dust has been slang for money since at least the early 1600s. In Joaquin Miller’s 1873 book Life Amongst the Modocs: Unwritten History, a broke character responds to a request for a payoff by saying, “Haven’t got the dust. Can’t liquidate.” 


A similarly grimy word has been around since at least the 1600s: dirt. Green’s Dictionary of Slang traces it to a 1637 example from Richard Brome’s The Damoiselle: “You spirited men call Money Dirt and Mud.”


strips of bacon sizzling in a pan
You can use the word ‘bacon’ in place of ‘money.’ / Douglas Sacha/Moment/Getty Images

Bacon has been slang for money since the early 20th century, and it’s likely known mainly from the idiom bring home the bacon (which can be traced to 1906 and is one of several phrases with oft-repeated but pretty dubious origins). Green’s explains that “the rich fattiness of the meat is a metaphor for wealth,” recording the 1908 cash-centric example “I need the bacon.”


This term, which originated in the Black community, refers to Benjamin Franklin’s placement on the hundred-dollar bill. It was immortalized in the 1997 song “It’s All About Benjamins” (“Wanna be ballers, shot-callers, / It’s all about the benjamins baby”), but Notorious B.I.G. used it earlier in the 1994 song “One More Chance,” rapping about “the way [his] pockets swell to the rim with Benjamins.”

Dead Presidents

Another term from the Black community for money is dead presidents, which Dan Burley wrote in 1944’s Original Handbook of Harlem Jive referred to “a dollar bill [or] paper money of any demonination [sic].”

Moolah and Moo

Moolah might be the most successful slang term for money. It’s been around since at least the mid-1930s and has a lesser-known sibling, moo, that appeared poetically in a 1941 edition of the Pittsburgh Currier: “Tossing ’round big gobs of moo, As if the stuff on bushes grew.” The origin is uncertain, but the OED suggests moolah is “Probably unrelated to European Romani mol- to be worth.”

Bread and Gingerbread

Bread, which money is often used to purchase, has been synonymous with money since the 1930s (at least). The OED records an example from A.J. Pollock’s 1935 book Underworld Speaks: “The man is out of bread, he has no money.” This sense is related to an obscure meaning of gingerbread; since at least 1625, if you “had the gingerbread,” you were rich. The term pops up in more recent times, such as this 1976 example from E. Dahlberg’s book Olive of Minerva: “Imagine a gawk like Abel with a light-heeled jill who’s looking for easy gingerbread.”

Bugs Bunny

Bugs Bunny
‘Bugs Bunny’ is rhyming slang for ‘money’ in Australia. / Don Arnold/GettyImages

In Australia, that wascally wabbit spawned a rhyming slang term for money that dates to the 1980s. Green’s records a 2002 example from alt.sex.stories that’s full of rhyming slang: “Vince was ambitious. Soon got himself tooled up with a lady of bristol [pistol] and began turning over arthur j. ranks [banks] all over South London—like he said, they were where the bugs bunny was kept.” Rarely has robbery been discussed so colorfully.


Speaking of Arthur J. Ranks, bank has been shorthand for money since at least the 1500s. As Ice T put it in 1988’s “High Rollers”: “Most men don’t understand it / Till they peep the huge bank that these girls have landed.”

Funny Money

Funny money, a term for conterfeit bills, dates back to at least 1901; a 1938 edition of lexicographical journal American Speech records the example “Nebraska needs no spurious coins [...] Funny money buys nothing but increased burdens of government.”

Chump Change

Another rhyming term, chump change, is worth nearly as little as funny money: It’s a way of describing a]piddling amount of cash that originated in the Black community. A congressional report from 1956 lamented, “Today, even five thousand dollars seems like chump change.”

Green, Greenback, and Long Green

Money’s color has long made green a term for money, including some specific variations. The OED defines greenback as “A monetary note issued by the United States during and immediately after the Civil War, and not backed by gold or silver.” Later, the term came to refer to money of any sort. Long green or long green stuff has referred to money since the 1800s. James Hime’s 2004 book Scared Money shows the term in use, with a self-reminder to “Generate himself some long green to keep growin’ his real estate business.”

Spinach, Salad, and Pocket Cabbage

spinach from above
You can use ‘spinach’ as slang for ‘money.’ / copyright rhinoneal/Moment/Getty Images

Likewise, since at least the early 1900s, spinach has been a term for money thanks to its color. If you lost some green, you lost spinach. A New York Amsterdam News article from 1938 offers a timeless observation: “You’re allright if your spinach supply holds out.” Similar terms for money include salad and pocket cabbage, both from the mid-1940s.

Uncle Sam’s IOU

This creative term for cash pops up in Milton Mezzrow and Bernard Wolfe’s 1946 book Really the Blues: “For a pencil-pusher he sure could flash plenty of Uncle Sam’s I.O.U.’s.”

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