Nugget of Knowledge: Coin names


Len Rome's Daily Feature of Little Known Facts

(WYTV) – How did our coins get their names?

The word “penny” comes from the Old English pening and has relatives in German (Pfennig) and Swedish (penning).

The British came to call it the penny, and when we first started minting the one-cent coin in 1793. we just continued to use the British term for it.

The original five-cent coin was called a half dime and it was made out of silver.

In 1883, businessman Joseph Wharton convinced the government to produce a cheaper new five-cent piece made of a nickel and copper alloy, and the name stuck.

We started calling them nickels. Wharton owned several nickel mines and he made out very well.

And what about the dime?

We started using the dime in 1792, and we called it that.

It came from the French word for one-tenth, and the dime is one-tenth of a dollar, spelled “disme.”

Disme is pronounced “dime,” so we started to spell it that way, too.

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