[PW] simolean

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com
Tue Aug 9 12:03:27 PDT 2016

Below are two excerpts containing the slang word "simoleons" from a
comical piece written in mock-biblical style published in a New York
humor magazine called "Puck" in 1881.

Date: October 5, 1881
Periodical: Puck
Publisher: Keppler & Schwarzmann, New York
Article: What Goeth On at Present
Quote Page 74, Column 1


(((Begin excerpt)))
[Unrevised Version.]

And in these days it shall come to pass that the young man who is a
clerk in a down-town store, and who taketh for his wages each week
shekels of gold and silver to the amount of ten simoleons, including
them that are punched, becometh discontented with his lot.
(((End excerpt)))

(((Begin another excerpt)))
For there be dues of gold and silver imposed upon them, even according
to the gorgeousness of their raiment. And if upon a holiday the young
man who playeth soldier goeth not forth with the other young men who
likewise play soldiers then is he mulcted in simoleons of gold and
(((End excerpt)))

Etymologist Michael Quinion who operates the "World Wide Words"
website presented an analysis the origin of "simoleon" on the
following webpage. The earliest citation he located was in 1883:


In 1953 a syndicated column by lexicographer Dr. Charles E. Funk
offered an analysis of "simoleon":

Date: January 20, 1953
Newspaper: The San Bernardino Daily Sun
Newspaper Location: San Bernardino, California
Article: Power in Words
Author: Dr. Charles E. Funk
Quote Page 28, Column 5
Database: Newspapers.com

(((Begin excerpt)))
The source of slang is rarely certain, but simoleon, meaning a dollar,
is believed to have been formed by telescoping the two words Simon and
Napoleon. Simon, taken from the expression Simon-pure, is slang for a
dollar, and napoleon was a French coin, named for the emperor whole
likeness it bore.
(((End excerpt)))


On Tue, Aug 9, 2016 at 2:16 PM, Mark Carson <mahousu at gmail.com> wrote:
> Wikitionary has a more detailed theory, that it's a blend of simon +
> Napoleon. "Simon" is old British slang for a sixpence, and comes (by way of
> simony) ultimately from Simon Magus, the magician who, in Acts chapter 8,
> tries to buy what he supposes is Peter's power.
> Mark
> On Tue, Aug 9, 2016 at 1:19 PM, Beth Twomey <beth.twomey at ndsu.edu> wrote:
>> The OED says the etymology is obscure but perhaps modelled on the
>> Napoleon, a gold 20 franc coin issued in the reign of Napoleon I. It notes
>> 1896 as an early usage
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: Project-wombat [mailto:project-wombat-bounces at lists.project-wombat.
>> org] On Behalf Of Barbara & George Grenier
>> Sent: Tuesday, August 09, 2016 10:50 AM
>> To: list at project-wombat.org
>> Subject: [PW] simolean
>> Hi all
>> This is for me. Just curious.   The Word of the Day.  Origin
>> uncertain they say.
>> Barbara
>> simoleon    \suh-MOH-lee-uh n\
>> noun
>> 1. Slang. a dollar.
>> Quotes
>> What few people know is that Gussie had inked a Lone Star in one corner of
>> every single simoleon. Gussie's bills turn up in the strangest places --
>> like Effie Sue Etheridge's garden and the effects of two teen-age runaways
>> ...
>> -- Kit Reed, "In Short: Fiction; The Laying Out of Gussie Hoot," New York
>> Times, January 20, 1991
>>   ... Gordon paid for a rye whiskey and a Coca-Cola with a simoleon that
>> had grains of sand stuck to it.
>> Ron Hansen, "Playland," Nebraska, 1989
>> Origin of simoleon
>> Simoleon is an Americanism, but its origin is uncertain. It may be
>> formed on the basis of the word Napoleon, which refers to a gold coin
>> issued during Napoleon I's reign.
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> --
> Mark Carson     mahousu at gmail.com
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