Souvenir US DollarThe United States dollar (sign: $; code: USD; also abbreviated US$), also referred to as the American dollar, is the official currency of the United States of America. It is divided into 100 smaller units called cents.
The U.S. dollar is the currency most used in international transactions and is one of the world's reserve currencies. Several countries use it as their official currency, in many others it is the de facto currency, and it is also used as the sole currency in some British Overseas Territories (Bermuda, British Virgin Islands and Turks and Caicos).
The Constitution of the United States of America provides that the United States Congress shall have the power "To coin Money". Laws implementing this power are currently codified in Section 5112 of Title 31 of the United States Code. Section 5112 provides in which forms the United States dollars shall be issued. Those coins are both designated in Section 5112 as "legal tender" in payment of debts. The Sacagawea dollar is one example of the copper alloy dollar. The pure silver dollar is known as the American Silver Eagle. Section 5112 also provides for the minting and issuance of other coins, which have values ranging from one cent to fifty dollars. These other coins are more fully described in Coins of the United States dollar.
The Constitution provides that "a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time". That provision of the Constitution is made specific by Section 331 of Title 31 of the United States Code. The sums of money reported in the "Statements" are currently being expressed in U.S. dollars (for example, see the 2009 Financial Report of the United States Government). The U.S. dollar may therefore be described as the unit of account of the United States.
The word "dollar" is one of the words in the first paragraph of Section 9 of Article 1 of the U.S. Constitution. In that context, "dollars" is a reference to the Spanish milled dollar, a coin that had a monetary value of 8 Spanish units of currency, or reales. In 1792 the U.S. Congress adopted legislation titled An act establishing a mint, and regulating the Coins of the United States. Section 9 of that act authorized the production of various coins, including "DOLLARS OR UNITS—each to be of the value of a Spanish milled dollar as the same is now current, and to contain three hundred and seventy-one grains and four sixteenth parts of a grain of pure, or four hundred and sixteen grains of standard silver". Section 20 of the act provided, "That the money of account of the United States shall be expressed in dollars, or units... and that all accounts in the public offices and all proceedings in the courts of the United States shall be kept and had in conformity to this regulation". In other words, this act designated the United States dollar as the unit of currency of the United States.
The U.S. dollar bill uses the decimal system, consisting of 100 equal cents (symbol ¢). It is also officially divided into 1,000 mills or ten dimes, while ten dollars is equal to an eagle. However, only cents are in everyday use as divisions of the dollar; "dime" is used solely as the name of the coin with the value of 10¢, while "eagle" and "mill" are largely unknown to the general public, though mills are sometimes used in matters of tax levies, and gasoline prices are usually in the form of $X.XX9 per gallon, e.g., $3.599, sometimes written as $3.599⁄10. When currently issued in circulating form, denominations equal to or less than a dollar are emitted as U.S. coins while denominations equal to or greater than a dollar are emitted as Federal Reserve notes (with the exception of gold, silver and platinum coins valued up to $100 as legal tender, but worth far more as bullion). Both one-dollar coins and notes are produced today, although the note form is significantly more common. In the past, "paper money" was occasionally issued in denominations less than a dollar (fractional currency) and gold coins were issued for circulation up to the value of $20 (known as the "double eagle," discontinued in the 1930s). The term eagle was used in the Coinage Act of 1792 for the denomination of ten dollars, and subsequently was used in naming gold coins. In 1854, James Guthrie, then Secretary of the Treasury, proposed creating $100, $50 and $25 gold coins, which were referred to as a "Union," "Half Union," and "Quarter Union," thus implying a denomination of 1 Union = $100.
Series of 1917 $1 United States bill
Today, USD notes are made from cotton fiber paper, unlike most common paper, which is made of wood fiber. U.S. coins are produced by the United States Mint. U.S. dollar banknotes are printed by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, and, since 1914, have been issued by the Federal Reserve. The "large-sized notes" issued before 1928 measured 7.42 inches (188 mm) by 3.125 inches (79.4 mm); small-sized notes, introduced that year, measure 6.14 inches (156 mm) by 2.61 inches (66 mm) by 0.0043 inches (0.11 mm).
The colloquialism "buck" (much like the British word "quid" for the pound sterling) is often used to refer to dollars of various nations, including the U.S. dollar. This term, dating to the 18th century, may have originated with the colonial fur trade. "Greenback" is another nickname originally applied specifically to the 19th century Demand Note dollars created by Abraham Lincoln to finance the costs of the Civil War for the North. The original note was printed in black and green on the back side. It is still used to refer to the U.S. dollar (but not to the dollars of other countries). Other well-known names of the dollar as a whole in denominations include "greenmail", "green" and "dead presidents" (the last because late presidents are pictured on some of the bills).
"Grand", sometimes shortened to simply "G", is a common term for the amount of $1,000. The suffix "K" or "k" (from "kilo-") is also commonly used to denote this amount (such as "$10k" to mean $10,000). In colloquial English, when someone refers to a "large" or "stack", it is usually a reference to an amount that is a multiple of $1,000 (such as "fifty large" meaning $50,000). Banknotes' nicknames are the same as their values (such as "five", "twenty" etc.) The $100 bill is nicknamed "Benjamin", "Benji" or "Franklin" (after Benjamin Franklin, who is pictured on the note), "C-note" (C being the Roman numeral for 100), "Century note" or "bill" (e.g. "two bills" being $200). The $20 bill has been referred to as "double sawbuck", "dub" or "Jackson" (after Andrew Jackson); the $10 bill - as "sawbuck", "ten-spot" or "Hamilton" (after Alexander Hamilton); the $5 bill - as "fin", "fiver" or "five-spot". The $2 bill is sometimes called "deuce", "Tom", "Jefferson" or "T.J." (after Thomas Jefferson); and the $1 bill - "single" or "buck". The dollar has also been referred to as a "bone" and "bones" in plural (e.g. "twenty bones" is equal to $20) or a "bean". The newer designs are sometimes referred to as "Bigface" bills or "Monopoly money". Some people refer to U.S. money as "cha-chingers", "bucks", "green-backs" and "smackers".
In French-speaking areas of Louisiana, the dollar is referred to as "piastre" (pronounced "pee-as") and the French holdover "sous" (pronounced "soo") is used to refer to the cent.
In Panama, the equivalent of buck is "palo" (literally "stick").
In Ecuador, the dollar is referred to as "lata".
In Peru, a nickname for the U.S. dollar is "coco", which is a pet name for Jorge ("George" in Spanish), a reference to the portrait of George Washington on the $1 note.
Puerto Ricans, both living in Puerto Rico and in the United States, may refer to the dollar as "peso".
In some places in Mexico, prices in U.S. dollars are referred to as "en americano" ("in American"), with the word "peso" used in Mexico primarily to refer to the Mexican peso.
Cubans call the U.S. dollar "fula". Loosely translated from Cuban jargon mean bad or not good. American money was not bad to have or use by Cubans in the island, but its possession was penalized before the mid-1990s, hence the nickname.
The symbol $, usually written before the numerical amount, is used for the U.S. dollar (as well as for many other currencies). The sign's ultimate origins are not certain, though it is possible that it comes from the Pillars of Hercules on the Spanish Coat of arms on the Spanish dollars that were minted in the New World mints in Mexico City, Potosí, Bolivia, and in Lima, Peru. These Pillars of Hercules on the silver Spanish dollar coins take the form of two vertical bars (||) and a swinging cloth band in the shape of an "S".
Another explanation is that this symbol for peso was the result of a late 18th-century evolution of the scribal abbreviation "ps." The p and the s eventually came to be written over each other giving rise to $.
A fictional possibility suggested is that the dollar sign is the capital letters U and S typed one on top of the other. This theory, popularized by novelist Ayn Rand in Atlas Shrugged, does not consider the fact that the symbol was already in use before the formation of the United States.