The word dollar has quite the unexpected origin. The US dollar was inspired by the Spanish dollar (which came before both the pesesta and the Euro), a stable and highly valued currency around the time America formed; the founding fathers wanted to associate American money with something else that was valuable. This is an Anglicization of a German word which sounded something like thaler or taler, also meaning "dollar", and this is where things get crazy. Thaler is a shortening of Joachimsthaler, the name of a German town where much silver was minted. This in turn was likely named after some St. Joachim or other, but we're not too sure. Going back to the pesesta briefly alluded to before, it was abbreviated ps back in the day, when the two letters combined to create the dollar sign ($) that we know today. Spanish seems to have made a surprisingly large impact on our economy.
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a rising junior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, and law.