AskDefine | Define shilling

Dictionary Definition



1 the basic unit of money in Uganda; equal to 100 cents [syn: Ugandan shilling]
2 the basic unit of money in Tanzania; equal to 100 cents [syn: Tanzanian shilling]
3 the basic unit of money in Somalia; equal to 100 cents [syn: Somalian shilling]
4 the basic unit of money in Kenya; equal to 100 cents [syn: Kenyan shilling]
5 a former monetary unit in Great Britain [syn: British shilling, bob]
6 an English coin worth one twentieth of a pound

User Contributed Dictionary




IPA: /'ʃɪlɪŋ/ rfap UK

Etymology 1

Old English scilling.


  1. A coin formerly used in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Malta, Australia, New Zealand and many other Commonwealth countries.
    Worth twelve old pence or one twentieth of a pound sterling.
  2. The currency of Kenya, Somalia, Tanzania and Uganda.
Usage notes
* s. or s or / (solidus) In East Africa, the names of the currencies usually use the proper noun for the country, not its adjectival form: "Kenya shilling", "Tanzania shilling", etc. Amounts are written with a solidus, probably from the UK usage: "2/50" is 2 shillings, 50 cents (not pence); 30 shillings only is written "30/=".

External links

Etymology 2

From shill.


  1. present participle of shill
  1. defn English

Extensive Definition

The shilling is a unit of currency in current and former use in many countries. The word is thought to derive from the base skell-, "to ring/resound", and the diminutive suffix -ing.
The abbreviation for shilling is s, from the Latin solidus, the name of a Roman coin. Often it was written informally or printed with a slash, e.g., 1/6d as 1 shilling and sixpence (often pronounced "one and six"), or when there were no pence with a slash then a hyphen, e.g., "11/-". Quite often a triangular shape or (sans serif) apostrophe would be used to give a neater appearance, e.g., "1'6" and "11'-". In Africa it is often abbreviated sh.

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, a shilling was a coin used from the reign of Henry VII until decimalisation in 1971. Before decimalisation, there were twenty shillings to the pound and twelve pence to the shilling, and thus 240 pence to the pound. Two coins denominated in multiple shillings were also in circulation at this time. They were the florin (2/-), which adopted the value of ten new pence (10p), and the crown (5/-), the highest denominated non-bullion UK coin in circulation at decimalisation. The word shilling comes from schilling, an accounting term that dates back to Anglo-Saxon times where it was deemed to be the value of a cow in Kent or a sheep elsewhere. Colonial shillings, such as the 1652 pine-tree shilling, were made in Massachusetts when the Puritans settled America. At decimalisation, the shilling was superseded by the new five pence piece, which initially was of identical size and weight and had the same value, and inherited the shilling's slang name of a bob.

Irish shillings

In the Republic of Ireland, the shilling was issued as scilling in Irish. They had kept the original 12d value on their shilling. It was issued until 1969, and after 1971, like the United Kingdom, the general public often used a shilling to pay 5p to shops, etc. When the Central Bank of Ireland issued a smaller 5p piece, the shilling was withdrawn in 1992. They remain, like all obsolete Irish coinage, redeemable at the Central Bank.

Australian shillings

see Australian coins Australian shillings, twenty of which made up one Australian pound, were first issued in 1910, with the Australian coat of arms on the reverse and King Edward VII on the face. The coat of arms design was retained through the reign of King George V until a new ram's head design was introduced for the coins of King George VI. This design continued until the last year of issue in 1963. In 1966 Australia's currency was decimalised and the shilling was replaced by a ten cent coin (Australian), where 10 shillings made up one Australian dollar.
The slang term for a shilling coin in Australia was "deener". The slang term for a shilling as currency unit was "bob", the same as in the United Kingdom.

East African shillings

The East African shilling was in use in the British colonies and protectorates of British Somaliland, Kenya, Tanganyika, Uganda and Zanzibar from 1920, when it replaced the rupee, until after those countries became independent, and in Tanzania after that country was formed by the merger of Tanganyika and Zanzibar in 1964. Upon independence in 1960, the East African shilling in the Northern Region of Somalia (former British Somaliland) and the Somali Somalo in the Southern Region (former Italian Somaliland) were replaced by the Somali Shilling. In 1966 the East African Monetary Union broke up, and the member countries replaced their currencies with the Kenyan shilling, the Ugandan shilling and the Tanzanian shilling respectively. Though all these currencies have different values at present, there are plans to reintroduce the East African shilling as a new common currency by 2009.

Other countries' shillings

Shillings were also issued in New Zealand before decimalisation in the 1960s, in Austria (Schilling) until the advent of the Euro, in the Scandinavian countries (skilding) until the Scandinavian Monetary Union of 1873, and in the city of Hamburg, Germany.
The Sol (later the sou), both also derived from the Roman solidus, were the equivalent coins in France, while the (nuevo) sol (PEN) remains the currency of Peru. As in France, the Peruvian sol was originally named after the Roman solidus, but the name of the Peruvian currency is now much more closely linked to the Spanish word for the sun (sol). This helps explain the name of its temporary replacement, the inti, named for the Incan sun god.
Shillings were also used in Malta, prior to decimalization in 1972, and had a face value of five Maltese cents.
Other countries that were in the British Empire still use the term shilling or the local variant (Shillin) informally as a unit of currency among the local populace. In Vanuatu and Solomon Islands, the word "selen" (shilling) is used in Bislama and Pijin to mean "money" and in Egypt and Jordan the Shillin (Arabic: شلن) is equal to 1/20th of the Egyptian pound or the Jordanian dinar. In the United States during colonial times, British money was used, and references to shillings are often seen in early American literature.


External links

shilling in Catalan: Xíling
shilling in Danish: Shilling
shilling in German: Schilling
shilling in Spanish: Chelín inglés
shilling in Esperanto: Ŝilingo
shilling in French: Shilling
shilling in Korean: 실링
shilling in Indonesian: Shilling
shilling in Italian: Shilling
shilling in Hebrew: שילינג
shilling in Swahili (macrolanguage): Shilingi
shilling in Dutch: Britse shilling
shilling in Japanese: シリング
shilling in Norwegian: Britisk shilling
shilling in Narom: Ch'lîn
shilling in Polish: Szyling (waluta)
shilling in Portuguese: Xelim
shilling in Russian: Шиллинг (английская монета)
shilling in Finnish: Šillinki
shilling in Swedish: Shilling
shilling in Turkish: Şilin

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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