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Where Does $ Come From?


You love it. You're always thinking about it. In fact you spend most of your life trying to get more of it. Yet this highly sought after and prized possession also wrecks marriages and destroys careers -- just ask the suits at Enron. What I'm talking about, of course, is The Almighty Dollar -- the root of all evil, what makes the world go round (and you thought it was love). During the many times you've sung its praises or cursed its name, ever wonder why "$" is the symbol for the American dollar?

For a long time, historians and mathematicians believed it was a stylized version of an "S" superimposed on a "U". However, in the 1920s the Department of Treasury concluded that "$" is actually a lineal descendant of the Spanish abbreviation "ps" for "pesos." This idea -- of an "S" being written over a "P" eventually replaced the "US" theory of the symbol's origin. While neither grouping of letters seem to resemble "$" more than the other, the fact that Spanish and Mexican coins were the main currency in many parts of the US in the 18th and 19th centuries seems to lend credence to the latter theory. So next time you wake up fuzzyheaded and dizzy after a night out on the town and discover just how little $ you have left, take comfort in knowing that you can delight and impress your equally broke friends with this bit of money trivia.

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