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[[File:|thumb|right|Coins and banknotes – the two most common physical forms of money.]]

Money is any object that is generally accepted as payment for goods and services and repayment of debts in a given country or socio-economic context.[1][2] The main functions of money are distinguished as: a medium of exchange; a unit of account; a store of value; and, occasionally, a standard of deferred payment.[3][4]

Money originated as commodity money, but nearly all contemporary money systems are based on fiat money.[3] Fiat money is without intrinsic use value as a physical commodity, and derives its value by being declared by a government to be legal tender; that is, it must be accepted as a form of payment within the boundaries of the country, for "all debts, public and private".

The money supply of a country consists of currency (banknotes and coins) and demand deposits or 'bank money' (the balance held in checking accounts and savings accounts). These demand deposits usually account for a much larger part of the money supply than currency.[5][6] Bank money is intangible and exists only in the form of various bank records. Despite being intangible, bank money still performs the basic functions of money, being generally accepted as a form of payment.[7]



A 640 BC one-third stater electrum coin from Lydia.

The use of barter-like methods may date back to at least 100,000 years ago, though there is no evidence of a society or economy that relied primarily on barter.[8] Instead, non-monetary societies operated largely along the principles of gift economics. When barter did occur, it was usually between either complete strangers or potential enemies.[9]

Many cultures around the world eventually developed the use of commodity money. The shekel was originally a unit of weight, and referred to a specific weight of barley, which was used as currency.[10]. The first usage of the term came from Mesopotamia circa 3000 BC. Societies in the Americas, Asia, Africa and Australia used shell money – often, the shells of the money cowry (Cypraea moneta L. or C. annulus L.). According to Herodotus, the Lydians were the first people to introduce the use of gold and silver coins.[11] It is thought by modern scholars that these first stamped coins were minted around 650–600 BC.[12]

The system of commodity money eventually evolved into a system of representative money.[citation needed] This occurred because gold and silver merchants or banks would issue receipts to their depositors – redeemable for the commodity money deposited. Eventually, these receipts became generally accepted as a means of payment and were used as money. Paper money or banknotes were first used in China during the Song Dynasty. These banknotes, known as "jiaozi" evolved from promissory notes that had been used since the 7th century. However, they did not displace commodity money, and were used alongside coins. Banknotes were first issued in Europe by Stockholms Banco in 1661, and were again also used alongside coins. The gold standard, a monetary system where the medium of exchange are paper notes that are convertible into pre-set, fixed quantities of gold, replaced the use of gold coins as currency in the 17th-19th centuries in Europe. These gold standard notes were made legal tender, and redemption into gold coins was discouraged. By the beginning of the 20th century almost all countries had adopted the gold standard, backing their legal tender notes with fixed amounts of gold.

After World War II, at the Bretton Woods Conference, most countries adopted fiat currencies that were fixed to the US dollar. The US dollar was in turn fixed to gold. In 1971 the US government suspended the convertibility of the US dollar to gold. After this many countries de-pegged their currencies from the US dollar, and most of the world's currencies became unbacked by anything except the governments' fiat of legal tender.


The word "money" is believed to originate from a temple of Hera, located on Capitoline, one of Rome's seven hills. In the ancient world Hera was often associated with money. The temple of Juno Moneta at Rome was the place where the mint of Ancient Rome was located.[13] The name "Juno" may derive from the Etruscan goddess Uni (which means "the one", "unique", "unit", "union", "united") and "Moneta" either from the Latin word "monere" (remind, warn, or instruct) or the Greek word "moneres" (alone, unique).

In the Western world, a prevalent term for coin-money has been specie, stemming from Latin in specie, meaning 'in kind'.[14]



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In the past, money was generally considered to have the following four main functions, which are summed up in a rhyme found in older economics textbooks: "Money is a matter of functions four, a medium, a measure, a standard, a store." That is, money functions as a medium of exchange, a unit of account, a standard of deferred payment, and a store of value.[4] However, most modern textbooks now list only three functions, that of medium of exchange, unit of account, and store of value, not considering a standard of deferred payment as a distinguished function, but rather subsuming it in the others.[3][15][16]

There have been many historical disputes regarding the combination of money's functions, some arguing that they need more separation and that a single unit is insufficient to deal with them all. One of these arguments is that the role of money as a medium of exchange is in conflict with its role as a store of value: its role as a store of value requires holding it without spending, whereas its role as a medium of exchange requires it to circulate.[4] Others argue that storing of value is just deferral of the exchange, but does not diminish the fact that money is a medium of exchange that can be transported both across space and time.[17] The term 'financial capital' is a more general and inclusive term for all liquid instruments, whether or not they are a uniformly recognized tender.

Medium of exchange

When money is used to intermediate the exchange of goods and services, it is performing a function as a medium of exchange. It thereby avoids the inefficiencies of a barter system, such as the 'double coincidence of wants' problem.

Unit of account

A unit of account is a standard numerical unit of measurement of the market value of goods, services, and other transactions. Also known as a "measure" or "standard" of relative worth and deferred payment, a unit of account is a necessary prerequisite for the formulation of commercial agreements that involve debt. To function as a 'unit of account', whatever is being used as money must be:

  • Divisible into smaller units without loss of value; precious metals can be coined from bars, or melted down into bars again.
  • Fungible: that is, one unit or piece must be perceived as equivalent to any other, which is why diamonds, works of art or real estate are not suitable as money.
  • A specific weight, or measure, or size to be verifiably countable. For instance, coins are often milled with a reeded edge, so that any removal of material from the coin (lowering its commodity value) will be easy to detect.

Store of value

To act as a store of value, a money must be able to be reliably saved, stored, and retrieved – and be predictably usable as a medium of exchange when it is retrieved. The value of the money must also remain stable over time. In that sense, inflation by reducing the value of money, diminishes the ability of the money to function as a store of value.[3]

Standard of deferred payment

While standard of deferred payment is distinguished by some texts,[4] particularly older ones, other texts subsume this under other functions.[3][15][16] A "standard of deferred payment" is an accepted way to settle a debt – a unit in which debts are denominated, and the status of money as legal tender, in those jurisdictions which have this concept, states that it may function for the discharge of debts. When debts are denominated in money, the real value of debts may change due to inflation and deflation, and for sovereign and international debts via debasement and devaluation.

Money supply

In economics, money is a broad term that refers to any financial instrument that can fulfill the functions of money (detailed above). These financial instruments together are collectively referred to as the money supply of an economy. Since the money supply consists of various financial instruments (usually currency, demand deposits and various other types of deposits), the amount of money in an economy is measured by adding together these financial instruments creating a monetary aggregate. Modern monetary theory distinguishes among different types of monetary aggregates, using a categorization system that focuses on the liquidity of the financial instrument used as money.

Market liquidity

Market liquidity describes how easily an item can be traded for another item, or into the common currency within an economy. Money is the most liquid asset because it is universally recognised and accepted as the common currency. In this way, money gives consumers the freedom to trade goods and services easily without having to barter.

Liquid financial instruments are easily tradable and have low transaction costs. There should be no (or minimal) spread between the prices to buy and sell the instrument being used as money.

Measures of money

The money supply is the amount of financial instruments within a specific economy available for purchasing goods or services. The money supply is usually measured as three escalating categories M1, M2 and M3. The categories grow in size with M1 being currency (coins and bills) and checking account deposits. M2 is currency, checking account deposits and savings account deposits, and M3 is M2 plus time deposits. M1 includes only the most liquid financial instruments, and M3 relatively illiquid instruments.

Another measure of money, M0, is also used, although unlike the other measures, it does not represent actual purchasing power by firms and households in the economy. M0 is base money, or the amount of money actually issued by the central bank of a country. It is measured as currency plus deposits of banks and other institutions at the central bank. M0 is also the only money that can satisfy the reserve requirements of commercial banks.

Types of money

Currently, most modern monetary systems are based on fiat money. However, for most of history, almost all money was commodity money, such as gold and silver coins. As economies developed, commodity money was eventually replaced by representative money, such as the gold standard, as traders found the physical transportation of gold and silver burdensome. Fiat currencies gradually took over in the last hundred years, especially since the breakup of the Bretton Woods system in the early 1970s.

Commodity money

Many items have been used as commodity money such as naturally scarce precious metals, conch shells, barley, beads etc., as well as many other things that are thought of as having value. Commodity money value comes from the commodity out of which it is made. The commodity itself constitutes the money, and the money is the commodity.[18] Examples of commodities that have been used as mediums of exchange include gold, silver, copper, rice, salt, peppercorns, large stones, decorated belts, shells, alcohol, cigarettes, cannabis, candy, etc. These items were sometimes used in a metric of perceived value in conjunction to one another, in various commodity valuation or Price System economies. Use of commodity money is similar to barter, but a commodity money provides a simple and automatic unit of account for the commodity which is being used as money. Although some gold coins such as the Krugerrand are considered legal tender, there is no record of their face value on either side of the coin. The rationale for this is that emphasis is laid on their direct link to the prevailing value of their fine gold content.[19] American Eagles are imprinted with their gold content and legal tender face value.[20]

Representative money

In 1875 economist William Stanley Jevons described what he called "representative money," i.e., money that consists of token coins, or other physical tokens such as certificates, that can be reliably exchanged for a fixed quantity of a commodity such as gold or silver. The value of representative money stands in direct and fixed relation to the commodity that backs it, while not itself being composed of that commodity.[21]

Fiat money

Fiat money or fiat currency is money whose value is not derived from any intrinsic value or guarantee that it can be converted into a valuable commodity (such as gold). Instead, it has value only by government order (fiat). Usually, the government declares the fiat currency (typically notes and coins from a central bank, such as the Federal Reserve System in the U.S.) to be legal tender, making it unlawful to not accept the fiat currency as a means of repayment for all debts, public and private.[22][23]

Some bullion coins such as the Australian Gold Nugget and American Eagle are legal tender, however, they trade based on the market price of the metal content as a commodity, rather than their legal tender face value (which is usually only a small fraction of their bullion value).[20][24]

Fiat money, if physically represented in the form of currency (paper or coins) can be accidentally damaged or destroyed. However, fiat money has an advantage over representative or commodity money, in that the same laws that created the money can also define rules for its replacement in case of damage or destruction. For example, the U.S. government will replace mutilated Federal Reserve notes (U.S. fiat money) if at least half of the physical note can be reconstructed, or if it can be otherwise proven to have been destroyed.[25] By contrast, commodity money which has been lost or destroyed cannot be recovered.

Commercial bank money

Demand deposit in cheque form.

Commercial bank money or demand deposits are claims against financial institutions that can be used for the purchase of goods and services. A demand deposit account is an account from which funds can be withdrawn at any time by check or cash withdrawal without giving the bank or financial institution any prior notice. Banks have the legal obligation to return funds held in demand deposits immediately upon demand (or 'at call'). Demand deposit withdrawals can be performed in person, via checks or bank drafts, using automatic teller machines (ATMs), or through online banking.[26]

Commercial bank money is created through fractional-reserve banking, the banking practice where banks keep only a fraction of their deposits in reserve (as cash and other highly liquid assets) and lend out the remainder, while maintaining the simultaneous obligation to redeem all these deposits upon demand.[27][28] Commercial bank money differs from commodity and fiat money in two ways, firstly it is non-physical, as its existence is only reflected in the account ledgers of banks and other financial institutions, and secondly, there is some element of risk that the claim will not be fulfilled if the financial institution becomes insolvent. The process of fractional-reserve banking has a cumulative effect of money creation by commercial banks, as it expands money supply (cash and demand deposits) beyond what it would otherwise be. Because of the prevalence of fractional reserve banking, the broad money supply of most countries is a multiple larger than the amount of base money created by the country's central bank. That multiple (called the money multiplier) is determined by the reserve requirement or other financial ratio requirements imposed by financial regulators.

The money supply of a country is usually held to be the total amount of currency in circulation plus the total amount of checking and savings deposits in the commercial banks in the country.

Monetary policy

When gold and silver are used as money, the money supply can grow only if the supply of these metals is increased by mining. This rate of increase will accelerate during periods of gold rushes and discoveries, such as when Columbus discovered the new world and brought back gold and silver to Spain, or when gold was discovered in California in 1848. This causes inflation, as the value of gold goes down. However, if the rate of gold mining cannot keep up with the growth of the economy, gold becomes relatively more valuable, and prices (denominated in gold) will drop, causing deflation. Deflation was the more typical situation for over a century when gold and paper money backed by gold were used as money in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Modern day monetary systems are based on fiat money and are no longer tied to the value of gold. The control of the amount of money in the economy is known as monetary policy. Monetary policy is the process by which a government, central bank, or monetary authority manages the money supply to achieve specific goals. Usually the goal of monetary policy is to accommodate economic growth in an environment of stable prices. For example, it is clearly stated in the Federal Reserve Act that the Board of Governors and the Federal Open Market Committee should seek “to promote effectively the goals of maximum employment, stable prices, and moderate long-term interest rates.”[29]

A failed monetary policy can have significant detrimental effects on an economy and the society that depends on it. These include hyperinflation, stagflation, recession, high unemployment, shortages of imported goods, inability to export goods, and even total monetary collapse and the adoption of a much less efficient barter economy. This happened in Russia, for instance, after the fall of the Soviet Union.

Governments and central banks have taken both regulatory and free market approaches to monetary policy. Some of the tools used to control the money supply include:

  • changing the interest rate at which the central bank loans money to (or borrows money from) the commercial banks
  • currency purchases or sales
  • increasing or lowering government borrowing
  • increasing or lowering government spending
  • manipulation of exchange rates
  • raising or lowering bank reserve requirements
  • regulation or prohibition of private currencies
  • taxation or tax breaks on imports or exports of capital into a country

In the US, the Federal Reserve is responsible for controlling the money supply, while in the Euro area the respective institution is the European Central Bank. Other central banks with significant impact on global finances are the Bank of Japan, People's Bank of China and the Bank of England.

For many years much of monetary policy was influenced by an economic theory known as monetarism. Monetarism is an economic theory which argues that management of the money supply should be the primary means of regulating economic activity. The stability of the demand for money prior to the 1980s was a key finding of Milton Friedman and Anna Schwartz[30] supported by the work of David Laidler,[31] and many others. The nature of the demand for money changed during the 1980s owing to technical, institutional, and legal factors and the influence of monetarism has since decreased.

See also


  1. ^ Mishkin, Frederic S. (2007). The Economics of Money, Banking, and Financial Markets (Alternate Edition). Boston: Addison Wesley. p. 8. ISBN 0-321-42177-9. 
  2. ^ What Is Money? By John N. Smithin [1] Retrieved July-17-09
  3. ^ a b c d e Mankiw, N. Gregory (2007). "2". Macroeconomics (6th ed.). New York: Worth Publishers. pp. 22–32. ISBN 0-7167-6213-7. 
  4. ^ a b c d T.H. Greco. Money: Understanding and Creating Alternatives to Legal Tender, White River Junction, Vt: Chelsea Green Publishing (2001). ISBN 1-890132-37-3
  5. ^ "Learn More About Coins and Money — Treasure Trove - Philadelphia Fed". Philadelphia Fed.. Retrieved 2009-04-20. 
  6. ^ "On2 Money / A History of Money". Retrieved 2009-04-20. 
  7. ^ Bernstein, Peter, A Primer on Money and Banking, and Gold, Wiley, 2008 edition, pp29-39
  8. ^ Mauss, Marcel. 'The Gift: The Form and Reason for Exchange in Archaic Societies.' pp. 36-37.
  9. ^ Graeber, David. 'Toward an Anthropological Theory of Value'. pp. 153-154.
  10. ^ Kramer, History Begins at Sumer, pp. 52–55.
  11. ^ Herodotus. Histories, I, 94
  12. ^ "Goldsborough, Reid. "World's First Coin"". 2003-10-02. Retrieved 2009-04-20. 
  13. ^ D'Eprio, Peter & Pinkowish, Mary Desmond (1998). What Are The Seven Wonders Of The World? First Anchor Books, p.192. ISBN 0-385-49062-3
  14. ^ "Online Etymology Dictionary". Retrieved 2009-04-20. 
  15. ^ a b Krugman, Paul & Wells, Robin, Economics, Worth Publishers, New York (2006)
  16. ^ a b Abel, Andrew; Bernanke, Ben (2005). "7". Macroeconomics (5th ed.). Pearson. pp. 266–269. ISBN 0201327899. 
  17. ^ Theory of Money and Credit– Library of Economics and Liberty
  18. ^ Mises, Ludwig von. The Theory of Money and Credit, (Indianapolis, IN: Liberty Fund, Inc., 1981), trans. H. E. Batson. Available online here [2]; accessed 9 May 2007; Part One: The Nature of Money, Chapter 3: The Various Kinds of Money, Section 3: Commodity Money, Credit Money, and Fiat Money, Paragraph 25.
  19. ^ Retrieved July-18-09
  20. ^ a b Retrieved July-18-09
  21. ^ Jevons, William Stanley (1875). "XVI: Representative Money". Money and the Mechanism of Exchange. ISBN 1596052600. Retrieved 2009-06-28. 
  22. ^ Deardorff, Prof. Alan V. (2008). "Deardorff's Glossary of International Economics". Department of Economics, University of Michigan. Retrieved 2008-07-12. 
  23. ^ Black, Henry Campbell (1910). "A Law Dictionary Containing Definitions Of The Terms And Phrases Of American And English Jurisprudence, Ancient And Modern", page 494. West Publishing Co. Black’s Law Dictionary defines the word "fiat" to mean "a short order or warrant of a Judge or magistrate directing some act to be done; an authority issuing from some competent source for the doing of some legal act"
  24. ^ Tom Bethell (1980-02-04). "Crazy as a Gold Bug". New York (New York Media) 13 (5): p. 34.  Retrieved July-18-09
  25. ^ Shredded & mutilated: Mutilated Currency, Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Retrieved 2007-05-09.
  26. ^ Sullivan, Arthur; Steven M. Sheffrin (2003). Economics: Principles in action. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall. pp. 258. ISBN 0130630853. 
  27. ^ The Bank Credit Analysis Handbook: A Guide for Analysts, Bankers and Investors by Jonathan Golin. Publisher: John Wiley & Sons (August 10, 2001). ISBN 0471842176 ISBN 978-0471842170
  28. ^ - Economic Definitions
  29. ^ The Federal Reserve. 'Monetary Policy and the Economy". (PDF) Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, (2005-07-05). Retrieved 2007-05-15.
  30. ^ Milton Friedman, Anna Jacobson Schwartz, (1971). Monetary History of the United States, 1867–1960. Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-00354-8. 
  31. ^ David Laidler, (1997). Money and Macroeconomics: The Selected Essays of David Laidler (Economists of the Twentieth Century). Edward Elgar Publishing. ISBN 1-85898-596-X. 


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

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Most common English words: keep « myself « morning « #274: money » door » round » kind



From Middle English moneie, moneye from Old French moneie (Modern French monnaie) from Latin moneta (money, a place for coining money, coin) from the name of the temple of Juno Moneta in Rome, where a mint was. Displaced native Middle English schat "money, treasure" (from Old English sceatt "money, treasure, coin"), Middle English feoh "money, property" (from Old English feoh "money, property, cattle").


Wikipedia has an article on:



normally uncountable, but moneys or monies

money (normally uncountable, but moneys or monies)

  1. A legally or socially binding conceptual contract of entitlement to wealth, void of intrinsic value, payable for all debts and taxes, and regulated in supply.
  2. A generally accepted means of exchange and measure of value.
    Before colonial times cowry shells imported from Mauritius were used as money in Western Africa.
  3. A currency maintained by a state or other entity which can guarantee its value (such as a monetary union).
  4. Hard cash in the form of banknotes and coins, as opposed to cheques/checks, credit cards, or credit more generally.
  5. The total value of liquid assets available for an individual or other economic unit, such as cash and bank deposits.
  6. Wealth
    He was born with money.
  7. An item of value between two parties used for the exchange of goods or services.
  8. A person who funds an operation.
  9. (as a modifier) Of or pertaining to money; monetary.
    money supply, money market


Derived terms

Related terms


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.

External links

  • money in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913
  • money in The Century Dictionary, The Century Co., New York, 1911
  • money at OneLook® Dictionary Search

Simple English

Money is what people use to buy things and "services" (that is, to have things done for them) - and what they take for selling their own things or services (what they do for others). There are many kinds of money in the world. Most countries have their own kind of money, such as the United States dollar or the British pound.

Money is also called many other names, like currency or cash. Most of the time a state or a government prints paper money and makes coins at a special place called a mint.

History of money

Money is what you use to buy things. The idea of trading things is very old. A long time ago, people did not buy or sell with money. Instead, they traded one thing for another to get what they wanted or needed. One person who owned many cows could trade with another person who owned much wheat. Each would trade a little of what he had with the other, and support the people on his farm. This is known as barter. Other things that were easier to carry around than cows also came to be held as valuable, and were used as trade items, such as jewelry and spices.

When people changed from trading in things like cows and wheat to using money instead, they needed things that would last a long time, still be valuable, and could be carried around. The first country in the world to make metal coins was called Lydia, sometime around 650 BC, in the western part of what is now Turkey. The Lydian coins were made of a weighed amount of precious metal and were stamped with a picture of a lion. This idea soon spread to Greece, the rest of the Mediterranean, and the rest of the world. Coins were all made to the same size and shape. In some parts of the world, different things have been used as money, like clam shells or blocks of salt.

Besides being easier to carry than cows, using money had many other advantages. Money is easier to divide than many trade goods. If someone own cows, and wants to trade for only "half a cow's worth" of wheat, he probably does not want to cut his cow in half. But if he sells his cow for money, and buys wheat with money, he can get exactly the amount he wants.

Cows die, and wheat rots. But money lasts longer than most trade goods. If someone sells a cow for money, he can save that money away until he needs it. He can always leave it to his children when he dies. It can last a very long time, and he can use it at any time.

Not every cow is as good as another cow. Some cows are sick and old, and others are healthy and young. Some wheat is good and other wheat is moldy or stale. So if a person trades cows for wheat, he might have a hard time arguing over how much wheat each cow is worth. But money is standard. That means one dollar is worth the same as another dollar. It is easier to add up and count money, than to add up the value of different cows or amounts of wheat.

Later, after coins had been used for hundreds of years, paper money started out as a promise to pay in coin, much like an "I.O.U." note. The first true paper money was used in China between 600 and 1455, and paper money was also printed in Sweden between 1660 and 1664. Both times, it did not work well, and had to be stopped because the banks kept running out of coins to pay on the notes. Massachusetts Bay Colony printed paper money in the 1690s, and this time, the idea was here to stay.

Today, most of what people think of as money is not even things you can hold. It is numbers in bank accounts, saved in computer memories. A large number of people still feel more comfortable using coins and paper, and do not totally trust using electronic money on a computer memory.

Kinds of money

Many types of money have been used at different times in history. These are:

Commodity money can be used for other purposes besides serving as a medium of exchange. We say it possesses intrinsic value, because it is useful or valuable by itself. Some examples of commodity money are cattle, silk, gold and silver. Convertible paper money is money that is convertible into gold and silver. Gold and Silver certificates are convertible paper money as they can be fully convertible into gold and silver.

Inconvertible money is money that cannot be converted into gold and silver. Notes and coins are inconvertible money. They are incovertible and are declared by the government money. They are also a country's legal tender. Today, notes and coins are the currencies used in df the money used is bank deposits.

Types of bank deposits:

Other websites

  • Linguistic and Commodity Exchanges by Elmer G. Wiens. Examines the structural differences between barter and monetary commodity exchanges and oral and written linguistic exchanges.krc:Ачхаrue:Пінязї

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