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cash

cash1 / kash/ • n. money in coins or notes, as distinct from checks, money orders, or credit: the staff were paid in cash a discount for cash. ∎  money in any form, esp. that which is immediately available. • v. [tr.] give or obtain notes or coins for (a check or money order). ∎  Bridge lead (a high card) so as to take the opportunity to win a trick. PHRASAL VERBS: cash in inf. take advantage of or exploit (a situation): the breweries were cashing in on the rediscovered taste for real ales. cash something in convert an insurance policy, savings account, or other investment into money. cash something outanother way of saying cash something in.DERIVATIVES: cash·a·ble adj. cash2 • n. (pl. same) hist. a coin of low value from China, southern India, or Southeast Asia.

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cash

cash †money-box; money. XVI. — F. †casse, or its source, It. cassa :- L. capsa CASE 2.

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cash

cashabash, ash, Ashe, bash, brash, cache, calash, cash, clash, crash, dash, encash, flash, gash, gnash, hash, lash, mash, Nash, panache, pash, plash, rash, sash, slash, smash, soutache, splash, stash, thrash, trash •earbash • kurbash • calabash •slapdash • pebbledash • balderdash •spatterdash • backlash • backslash •whiplash • eyelash • goulash •newsflash • thunderflash • mishmash •gatecrash • Midrash • potash •succotash

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Cash

Cash

What It Means

Cash refers to the banknotes, or bills, and coins used as money and accepted as legal tender in a society. Legal tender is the currency (units of exchange) that by law cannot be refused in the settlement of a debt in the same currency. Paying for a good or a service with cash is different than paying for a good or a service with a check, a credit card, or a debit card, none of which, strictly speaking, are legal tender. In other words, if a person goes to a restaurant in the United States and receives a bill at the end of the meal for $15, then the restaurant must accept payment if the person offers $15 in U.S. cash. The restaurant probably does not accept money in a foreign currency, and it could have a policy against accepting checks, credit cards, or debit cards. The establishment is not required by law to accept these alternative forms of payment. By paying cash, the patron settles his debt with the restaurant immediately. Checks, credit cards, and debit cards, on the other hand, defer payment. If the restaurant accepts payment by check, credit card, or debit card, then they are accepting a promise that they will receive the $15 from a financial institution at a later date.

In the United States cash includes seven units of paper currency and six units of coins. The units of paper cash are the one-dollar bill ($1), the two-dollar bill ($2), the five-dollar bill ($5), the ten-dollar bill ($10), the twenty-dollar bill ($20), the fifty-dollar bill ($50), and the one-hundred-dollar bill ($100). The coins are the penny ($.01), the nickel ($.05), the dime ($.10), the quarter ($.25), the half dollar or fifty-cent piece ($.50), and the silver dollar ($1.00). Of the paper currency, the most frequently used units of cash in the United States are one-, five-, ten-, and twenty-dollar bills. The most frequently used coins are the penny, the nickel, the dime, and the quarter.

When Did It Begin?

European explorers of southern India in the sixteenth century encountered the Tamil people, who used a coin called the kasu as their currency. The English began referring to this coin as “cass,” but this word soon merged with the existing English word cash , which meant a box or a chest. The English began calling the Tamil coin “cash.” As English exploration of the world continued, the original sense of the word cash became obsolete, and the word came to signify money.

Throughout the seventeenth century the English traded with China. At the time, the Chinese called their currency the wen , which were coins made of brass, iron, or copper. The English called the wen cash. Although most wen coins were round with a square hole in the middle, some were shaped like knives, hoes, or shields. No matter the shape, each coin had a round or square hole, which the Chinese used to string the coins together to make larger denominations of money. The wen was the Chinese currency from the sixth century bc until ad 1889.

More Detailed Information

In most currencies throughout the world, coins are used for the lower-valued cash units and banknotes (bills) are used for the higher-valued cash units. Before banknotes were created, people carried precious metals, such as gold and silver, if they wished to purchase expensive items. However, carrying gold and silver is heavy as well as dangerous. The first people to substitute paper currency for precious metals were the Chinese during the Sui dynasty in the seventh century ad . Aggravated by the weight of the wen they carried on strings, these people began leaving their coins with a person who in return gave them a slip of paper indicating how much money he was storing for them. The person could retrieve his coins by presenting the note back to the holder. Gradually this paper currency came to be circulated among merchants and consumers throughout small villages and townships of China. A note could be given as a promise to pay the recipient a specified amount of precious metal that was stored somewhere. In a sense, the early bank notes were IOUs, or promissory notes. At first, these notes could be used only in certain areas and were valid for only a short period of time. By ad 960, however, banknotes were printed by the government of the Sung dynasty and were valid throughout the kingdom of China.

In the United States the U.S. dollar was established as the nation’s official currency by a body known as the Congress of the Confederation of the United States on July 6, 1785. Since 1861 U.S. banknotes have been printed by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP), an official government agency. Money is printed the BEP facilities in Washington, D.C., and Fort Worth, Texas. These notes are then transported to the Federal Reserve, the central banking system in the country, which puts the money into circulation. In 1995 there were more than $380 billion U.S. dollars in circulation. Two-thirds of these dollars were outside the country’s borders. Within a decade that figure had doubled to nearly $760 billion, with about the same fraction in circulation outside the country. Today there is no note larger than the $100 bill, though this was not always the case. Until 1945 the BEP printed $500, $1,000, $5,000, and $10,000 bills.

Most banknotes are printed on a heavy paper that is mixed with linen and cotton. This product is more durable than ordinary paper, so that the money will not rip easily or disintegrate after it has changed hands numerous times. Throughout history, however, banknotes have been issued on some interesting materials. In French Canada in 1865, emergency paper money was printed on playing cards. In the Netherlands in the sixteenth century, banknotes were issued on leather, and once, in a crisis, people used the covers of church hymnals to make paper currency. Between World War I and World War II, some German towns printed bills on silk. During the Boer War in 1902 in South Africa money was printed on khaki fabric.

U.S. coins are produced at the U.S. Mint, which was founded in 1792 with the passage of the Coinage Act. The first office of the U.S. Mint was established in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, which in the 1790s was the nation’s capital. The main office is still in Philadelphia, and branch offices are located in Denver, Colorado; San Francisco, California; and West Point, New York. The U.S. Mint sells the coins it produces to the Federal Reserve, which puts them into circulation.

Recent Trends

Most Americans pay for goods and services with a debit card or a credit card rather than with cash. According to some estimates, U.S. shoppers were making one-third of their purchases with a debit card as of July 2006. Since 2000 the use of debit cards has increased by 50 percent in the United States. Rather than going to the bank to withdraw money, shoppers frequently use their debit cards to retrieve cash from their bank accounts when they purchase items in a store. Before concluding most debit-card transactions, the store cashier will ask a customer if he or she wishes to have any additional “cash back.” The customer has the option to withdraw a certain amount of cash from his or her bank account. If the customer chooses $20 cash back, for example, then $20 will be added to the bill for the goods purchased, and the cashier will give the customer $20 in cash.

Many Americans prefer using credit cards to cash. Since 1990 credit-card debt in the United States has soared. In 1990 some 82 million Americans had credit cards. By 2003 that number had grown to 144 million. During that period the amount that Americans charged rose from $338 billion to $1.5 trillion. As of 2006 research indicated that Americans owed more than $800 billion in credit-card debt. The average balance (the amount owed) on an American’s credit card is $9,300.

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