Ooooh, a bit of Antikrish research ensued this Sunday afternoon all because of my friend Beth’s status update on Facebook.
Beth said she wanted a monkey (assuming it was because a friend went to the zoo and not due to anything unwholesome), anyway, to me a monkey is £500 (my dad and brother also use these terms a fair bit) and after educating her on this I eventually pondered where the saying came from originally.
So, a bit of background. Various people from London (mainly working class) have different names for certain denominations of money, some get their meaning from cockney rhyming slang, for example, a fiver is a ‘lady’ (cockney rhyming slang for Lady Godiver), a tenner is a ‘cockle’ (Cock and hen = ten).
There are also terms for money which don’t have a link to rhyming slang, like a Pony (£25), a score (£20), and a monkey to name but a few.
Imagine how chuffed I was to find that the term ‘monkey’ and ‘pony’ all stem from British colonialism in India. How cool is that?
“The term monkey comes from British soldiers returning from India where the 500 rupee note had a picture of a monkey on it. They used the term monkey for 500 rupees and on returning to England the saying was converted for sterling to mean £500. The 25 rupee note had a picture of a pony on it, hence why a pony is £25.”
Nice one Beth, you monkey lover!