green·​back | \ ˈgrēn-ˌbak How to pronounce greenback (audio) \

Definition of greenback

: a legal-tender note issued by the U.S. government

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Synonyms for greenback


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Examples of greenback in a Sentence

she threw a few greenbacks on the counter to pay for the drinks
Recent Examples on the Web Why must deploying a new greenback take more than twice as long? Deroy Murdock, National Review, "Put Harriet Tubman on a New $25 Bill," 21 Nov. 2019 But a stronger greenback also tends to weigh on gold prices. Anneken Tappe, CNN, "Stocks set to slide more ahead of Powell testimony," 9 July 2019 In an industry where pride can be a greater currency than greenbacks, having a rival produce your hits isn’t a good look. Steven Zeitchik, Washington Post, "Behind the scenes of the Disney-Sony fight for Spider-Man," 23 Aug. 2019 The greenback is usually involved, and a basis swap spread is a measure of how much more a bank has to pay to borrow dollars by this circuitous route rather than taking an outright Libor loan. Washington Post, "Danger Signs From an Esoteric Corner of Finance," 18 Sep. 2019 As the world’s reserve currency, the greenback holds outsize importance in the international economy, often serving as a unit of account when settling trades and playing a critical role in global stock markets. Matthew De Silva, Quartz, "Why does the Bank of England want a global digital currency?," 29 Aug. 2019 America accounts for just 15% of global GDP and 10% of global trade, yet the greenback is used for half of global trade invoicing, two-thirds of emerging-market external debt and two-thirds of official foreign-exchange reserves. The Economist, "A meeting of economists and central bankers was overshadowed by President Donald Trump," 29 Aug. 2019 Evan Brown, head of macro asset allocation strategy at UBS Asset Management, suggests taking active short positions on currencies including the Australian dollar relative to the U.S. dollar and the greenback relative to the Japanese yen. Michael Wursthorn, WSJ, "Some Investors Hedge Against Renewed Trade Tension," 28 June 2019 A year earlier in 1983, the Hong Kong dollar had been pegged to the greenback. Fortune, "Hong Kong Stocks Are Having Their Worst Streak Since 1984," 6 Aug. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'greenback.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of greenback

1862, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for greenback

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The first known use of greenback was in 1862

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Statistics for greenback

Last Updated

1 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Greenback.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 6 December 2019.

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Financial Definition of greenback

What It Is

Greenback is a slang term for the U.S. dollar. This name is derived from the green color of U.S. paper currency.

How It Works

Since U.S. currency notes were first introduced in the early 1800s, their color has customarily been green. For several decades until the end of the American Civil War, the U.S. federal government was unable to fully back currency notes, and most banking authorities were unwilling to fully honor their face value. As a result, the term "greenback" began as a derogatory term that over time, evolved into common slang.  Once dollar bill denominations were centrally issued and universally acceptable as a form of payment, other vernacular terms including "buck" were introduced into common language.

Why It Matters

The term greenback is not used as frequently as it once was – particularly where the color of American currency has changed in recent years.  Although the connotation of the term is no longer derogatory as it once was, it is important to recognize the historical origins for the term "greenback."

Source: Investing Answers


How to pronounce greenback (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of greenback

informal : a piece of U.S. paper money

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with greenback

Spanish Central: Translation of greenback

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very cautious or careful

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