Definition of shinplaster
1 : a piece of privately issued paper currency; especially : one poorly secured and depreciated in value
2 : a piece of fractional currency
shinplaster was our Word of the Day on 05/15/2014. Hear the podcast!
Did You Know?
In the past, shinplaster referred to a small, square patch of paper that was used as a plaster in treating sore legs. In 19th-century America, the term shinplaster was applied to another paper Band-Aid fix: the privately-issued, poorly-secured notes substituted for the coins withdrawn from current circulation. The lexical currency of shinplaster spiked when it began being used for the paper money in denominations of less than a dollar-a.k.a. "fractional currency"-issued by the United States government after the depression of 1837 and during the Civil War. In 1870, the U.S.'s neighbor to the north, Canada, issued its own shinplaster, a 25-cent note, which fell into disuse in the early 20th century.
First Known Use of shinplaster
Learn More about shinplaster
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up shinplaster? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).