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Press-money

and Press-men do not mean money given to impress men into the service and men so impressed; but ready money, and men ready for service. When a recruit has received the money, he binds himself to be ready for service whenever his attendance is required. Similarly, a press-gang is a gang to get ready men. (Old French prest, now prêt; Italian presto.)

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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