holey dollar

variants: or less commonly holy dollar

Definition of holey dollar

: a flat, doughnut-shaped silver coin used in New South Wales from 1813 to 1829 that was worth 5 shillings and that together with the dump (see dump entry 3 sense 2b) was fabricated from a Spanish peso

called also colonial dollar, pierced dollar, ring dollar

Note: Faced with a lack of coinage, the early government of New South Wales took 40,000 pesos (also known as Spanish silver dollars or pieces of eight) and broke each of them into two parts by punching the center out. The ring that had been the outer portion of the original coin was counterstamped with a new date and the words “New South Wales” and came to be known as a holey dollar. The small disk that had been the inner part of the original coin was stamped with new designs and called a dump.

Love words?

You must — there are over 200,000 words in our free online dictionary, but you are looking for one that’s only in the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary.

Start your free trial today and get unlimited access to America's largest dictionary, with:

  • More than 250,000 words that aren't in our free dictionary
  • Expanded definitions, etymologies, and usage notes
  • Advanced search features
  • Ad free!

First Known Use of holey dollar

1840, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about holey dollar

Time Traveler for holey dollar

Time Traveler

The first known use of holey dollar was in 1840

See more words from the same year

Statistics for holey dollar

Cite this Entry

“Holey dollar.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/holey%20dollar. Accessed 2 Jul. 2020.

Comments on holey dollar

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


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

A More Exception(al) Quiz

  • hot dog  hot dog  hot dog  hot dog cat
  • Which of the following words is not a synonym for ‘a young person’?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!