green·back | \ˈgrēn-ˌbak \

Definition of greenback 

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

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Synonyms for greenback


banknote, bill, note

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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

This leads to wide use of the greenback, which arrives through remittances and major aid agencies that operate here and mainly pay in the U.S. currency. Matina Stevis-gridneff, WSJ, "An Isolated Country Runs on Mobile Money," 8 July 2018 Thomas Trutschel—Photothek via Getty Images One long-time dollar bull says the greenback’s charge is just getting started. Fortune, "'I’ve Never Been This Bullish' on the U.S. Economy, Bank of America Strategist Says," 28 June 2018 That perception helps explain the sometimes-bizarre frailties of the North Korean economy, which the government sustained with coal, textiles, narcotics, counterfeit greenbacks, and more recently cybertheft rather than submit to reform., "Why Doesn’t North Korea Want to Be More Like Its Neighbors?," 23 May 2018 The Hong Kong dollar traded at HK$7.8499 per greenback as of 3:30 p.m. local time., "Hong Kong Gets Prominent Back-Seat Driver in Dollar Peg Defense," 17 Apr. 2018 When the greenback gets stronger, non-U.S. banks’ appetite for risk diminishes and their share prices suffer. Paul J. Davies, WSJ, "Why the Strong Dollar Is Bad for Banks," 10 July 2018 The monetary authority has sold more than $1.6 billion of greenbacks in exchange markets this month, helping to slow down the rout that’s made the peso among the world’s worst performing currencies this year. Pablo Rosendo Gonzalez,, "Argentina's Defense of the Peso Makes Its 27% Rates More Tempting," 23 Mar. 2018 The Mexican peso was weaker early Monday at 20.10 pesos to the U.S. dollar, compared with 19.91 late Friday, but still stronger than its recent lows against the greenback. Robbie Whelan, WSJ, "Win by López Obrador Pushes Mexico Sharply to Left," 2 July 2018 In theory a rising greenback should allow Americans to buy more imports, stimulating foreign economies. The Economist, "World economic growth is slowing. Don’t worry—yet," 19 May 2018

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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20 Oct 2018

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The first known use of greenback was in 1862

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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



English Language Learners Definition of greenback

: a piece of U.S. paper money

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Spanish Central: Translation of greenback

Comments on greenback

What made you want to look up greenback? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a state of commotion or excitement

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