Dollar Sign

Updated February 12, 2020 | Infoplease Staff

The Question:

Where did the dollar sign originate?

The Answer:

Based on the study of old manuscripts, it appears to have originated with an abbreviation for "pesos." In revolutionary times-before the United States was independent, let alone printing its own currency-the Spanish dollar was widely used in the colonies. Spanish dollars were also called also known as pesos de 8 reales, or pieces of eight, and "pesos" was abbreviated "ps." Over time, the "p" and "s" overlapped and merged, forming what we now know as the dollar sign, $.

Similarly, the word "dollar" comes from the Spanish dollar.

For more information, see the U.S. Bureau of Printing and Engraving site, and Cecil Adams's explanation of the dollar sign.

-The Editors

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