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“Quid” is a colloquial term commonly used to refer to the British pound sterling, denoted as GBP, which serves as the official currency of the United Kingdom (U.K.). The currency unit known as a quid is equivalent to 100 pence. It is worth noting that the origin of the term “quid” may be traced back to the Latin expression “quid pro quo,” which signifies a reciprocal exchange of goods or services. 

Key takeaways:

  • “Quid” is a colloquial term commonly used to refer to the official currency of the United Kingdom, namely the British pound sterling (GBP).
  • One quid is equivalent to one hundred pence.
  • The utilization of the term “quid” commenced during the latter part of the 17th century.
  • The contemporary pound sterling is no longer constituted by silver.

A Brief History of the Term Quiet 

The expression “quid” emerged during the latter part of the 17th century, although the connection to the British currency remains uncertain. According to particular academics, it has been suggested that the utilization of the term originated from Italian migrants, who derived it from “scudo,” which refers to gold and silver coins of diverse denominations that were prevalent in Italy during the period spanning from the 16th century to the 19th century.

The etymology could be linked to Quidhampton, a quaint village in Wiltshire, England, formerly the residence of a paper mill belonging to the Royal Mint. Any currency produced in this factory could have been called a quid. The pound sterling boasts a remarkably extensive chronicle spanning over 12 centuries, making it the most ancient currency still actively utilized worldwide. 

Historical Background of the British Pound Sterling

The origins of the pound sterling can be traced back to the year 775 A.D. during the reign of Anglo-Saxon kings. During this time, silver pennies, known as sterlings, were introduced and used as a form of currency. A gathering of 240 items was equivalent to 1 unit of sterlings, thus earning the title “pound sterling.” In Latin, Libra signifies “weight,” and Libra Pondo translates to weight in pounds, which is why the British pound showcases a sophisticated “L” or £ symbol.

The utilization of a solitary-pound coin, or sovereign, commenced in 1489 during the reign of King Henry VII. Besides the United Kingdom, the British pound has functioned as legal tender in numerous territories of the British Empire, encompassing Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. 

For almost 1,200 years, the standard in the United Kingdom was to have 240 pence in one pound sterling. However, in 1971, the British Parliament introduced decimalization, which meant that one pound sterling would equal 100 pence.

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Timeline of the United Kingdom’s Coins and Banknotes 

  • In 1504, shillings were produced where 12 pence were allocated to constitute a single shilling, and 20 shillings were deemed equivalent to one pound.
  • The initiation of gold coin minting commenced in the year 1560.
  • During the historical period of 1694, the establishment of English banknotes came into fruition under the auspices of King William III after he initiated the Bank of England. The predominant currency denomination utilized during that period was a banknote with a face value of ten pounds. Nevertheless, the monarchy found it imperative to introduce five-pound notes due to extended periods of pronounced inflation or escalating prices.
  • In 1717, the term “pound sterling” underwent obsolescence as Europe transitioned from a silver standard to a gold standard.

From 775 to 1971, a wide range of British coins were produced in various denominations that are no longer in circulation. These included pennies, halfpennies, farthings, half-crowns, and double-florins. By 2023, the United Kingdom will boast a diverse range of currency in circulation, consisting of eight distinct coins and four unique banknotes:

  • Penny in denominations of 1
  • Pence in denominations of 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50
  • £ coins in 1 and 2-pound amounts
  • £ notes in 5, 10, 20, and 50-pound amounts

Which Slang Terms Are Most Commonly Used to Refer to the British Pound?

Quid is the widely used colloquial expression for the British pound and is always used in its singular form. Additional expressions denoting a pound include Smacker, Fiver for the £5 note, Tenner for the £10 note, and Dosh.

What Is the Difference Between a Pound and a Quid?

The term “quid” is colloquially used to refer to the official currency of the United Kingdom, namely the pound sterling. The pound, also known as GBP, is the official currency of the United Kingdom, serving as a medium of exchange and store of value. Like the United States’ currency, referred to as the dollar, the pound plays a pivotal role in facilitating domestic and international transactions within the U.K.


The British pound sterling (GBP) is the most ancient currency currently in circulation. The term “quid” is frequently utilized as a colloquial designation for this particular entity. One unit of currency, commonly referred to as a “quid,” is equivalent to £1, denoting the official currency of the United Kingdom, known as the pound sterling.

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Nathan Boardman

By Nathan Boardman

Nathan Boardman, acclaimed Forex trader and author, specializes in market analysis, strategy development, and risk management. His insightful articles, published in Forex Profiles, empower readers to navigate the currency market successfully.

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