legal tender


Definition of legal tender

: money that is legally valid for the payment of debts and that must be accepted for that purpose when offered

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for legal tender


bread [slang], bucks, cabbage [slang], cash, change, chips, coin, currency, dough, gold, green, jack [slang], kale [slang], lolly [British], long green [slang], loot, lucre, money, moola (or moolah) [slang], needful, pelf, scratch [slang], shekels (also sheqels), tender, wampum

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of legal tender in a Sentence

Soon after France adopted the euro, the French franc ceased to be legal tender. coins and bills are considered legal tender, but postage stamps are not

Recent Examples on the Web

In December 2016 Venezuela’s president, Nicolás Maduro, decreed that the 100-bolívar note, then the largest in circulation, would cease to be legal tender within three days. The Economist, "Venezuelan cash is almost worthless, but also scarce," 12 July 2018 Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had said in February that the country didn’t recognize cryptocurrencies as legal tender and planned to crack down on the market. Gregor Stuart Hunter, WSJ, "Regulators World-Wide Are Cracking Down on Cryptocurrencies. India’s Next.," 6 Apr. 2018 Although the notes have obvious markings that aren’t typical of legal tender, the bills are the same size as the real thing and might pass for the real thing at a glance if folded or stacked with other bills. Julia Sclafani, sacbee, "Despite Chinese markings, fake $100 bills cause a scene at El Dorado Hills intersection," 9 July 2018 Montenegro, a candidate to join the European Union, has adopted the euro as its sole legal tender, facilitating investments and helping to control inflation in recent years. Isobel Lee, WSJ, "Business-Friendly Government Boosts Resort Business in Montenegro," 5 June 2018 Intended only as a collector’s item, the digital coins won’t be issued with a view to entering into circulation and can’t be used as legal tender, the bank said. Fortune, "Cryptocurrency Fans Will Soon Be Able to Buy a Digital Collector's Coin," 6 Mar. 2018 These electronic deposits—which aren’t legal tender in the way notes and coins are—would be converted into central bank money issued by the SNB. Brian Blackstone, WSJ, "Swiss Central Bank Denounces Proposal to Ban Money Creation by Banks," 3 May 2018 India’s finance minister, Arun Jaitley, said in February that the country doesn’t recognize cryptocurrencies as legal tender. Corinne Abrams, WSJ, "Millions’ Worth of Bitcoin Goes Missing at an Indian Exchange. Whodunnit?," 13 Apr. 2018 These large denomination bills are still considered a legal tender, though one hasn't been printed since 1945. Marlena Scott, Teen Vogue, "The Complete History of Money in America, From Pelts to Pennies," 13 Apr. 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of legal tender

circa 1730, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about legal tender

Statistics for legal tender

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for legal tender

The first known use of legal tender was circa 1730

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for legal tender

legal tender


English Language Learners Definition of legal tender

: money that the law allows people to use for paying debts

legal tender


Legal Definition of legal tender

: money that is legally valid for the payment of debts and that must be accepted for that purpose when offered

More from Merriam-Webster on legal tender

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for legal tender

Nglish: Translation of legal tender for Spanish Speakers

Comments on legal tender

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


behavior toward others

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Add Diction

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!