1 : a piece of privately issued paper currency; especially : one poorly secured and depreciated in value
2 : a piece of paper money in denominations of less than one dollar
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was applied to another paper Band-Aid fix: the privately-issued, poorly-secured notes substituted for the coins withdrawn from current circulation.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.
It was the same during the Civil War when the government again turned to the printing press to finance the war. So-called 'greenbacks' … and 'shinplasters,' paper 5-, 10-, 25- and 50-cent pieces, were printed by the thousands to help pay Union soldiers and relieve a coin shortage caused by hoarding." - From an article by John Schmeltzer in the Chicago Tribune, May 12, 1995
"'Some Canadians consider the penny more of a nuisance than a useful coin,' the budget documents said. And so the coin will go the way of the old 25-cent shinplaster." - From an article by John Ward of The Canadian Press, March 29, 2012
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
Test Your Vocabulary
Which of the following words means "money in coin": "speciation," "specie," or "specter"? The answer is …
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