Learn English – Why are pounds sterling called “knicker”


I asked the price of an article the other day, and was told that it cost 120 knicker. This is a slang term for pounds sterling that always appears in the singular. I have failed find any reason why pounds should be referred to thus (it might also be nicker and I am imagining the silent k).

Is it some rhyming slang I am missing the back half of, or is there some other etymology?

Best Answer

The OED says it's origin is unknown, but suggests it could be originally horse racing slang and the first quotation from 1871 is in this context.

One of the other meanings of nicker is a neigh or neighing sound, originally Scottish, and imitative of horses or donkeys, and is from at least the 17th century. It also meant a laugh or a snicker.