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

Meanwhile, gold for December delivery rose 1.1% to settle at $1267.50 a troy ounce on a weaker greenback. Jessica Menton, WSJ, "Dollar Falls to Start the Week," 24 Dec. 2018 The yuan’s descent has slammed those with sizable debt and costs denominated in the greenback, such as airlines and developers. Fortune, "China's Sliding Yuan Is Bad News for These Companies," 28 June 2018 Strength in the dollar also weighed on crude prices as a rising greenback diminished the appeal of commodities priced in the U.S. currency. Jessica Summers,, "Oil Dips as Industry Report Shows Swelling Spare U.S. Oil Supply," 27 Feb. 2018 The peso closed at 37.4 pesos per greenback on Friday and tumbled an additional 4 percent to 39.3 pesos per dollar after the president spoke, suggesting the announcement had done little to reassure investors. Almudena Calatrava, The Seattle Times, "Argentina announces new taxes, ministry cuts amid turmoil," 4 Sep. 2018 Sterling has risen against the dollar because markets are more optimistic that Brexit won’t end messily; the greenback has been falling steadily since Donald Trump came to power. The Economist, "Business this week," 25 Jan. 2018 The yuan’s move against the dollar this year has partly been driven by the broader strength of the greenback: against a basket of 24 currencies, the yuan has declined by just 2.7% this year, compared with a fall of 6.7% against the dollar. Mike Bird, WSJ, "China Sets Official Yuan Rate at Weakest in a Decade," 30 Oct. 2018 Since the start of November, when tax reform began looking likely to pass, the greenback has fallen by about 3%. The Economist, "Capital is on its way to America, but for bad reasons," 1 Mar. 2018 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

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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Last Updated

29 Dec 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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More from Merriam-Webster on greenback

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with greenback

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for greenback

Spanish Central: Translation of greenback

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