shin·​plas·​ter | \ ˈshin-ˌpla-stər How to pronounce shinplaster (audio) \

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

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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was applied to another paper Band-Aid fix: the privately-issued, poorly-secured notes substituted for the coins withdrawn from current circulation.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

1824, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Cite this Entry

“Shinplaster.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Jul. 2020.

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