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The dollar is the name of the official currency in several countries, dependencies and other regions (see list below), including the US dollar, the world's most widely circulated currency (see list below). It is represented by the symbol $.

The name is related to the historic currencies Tolar in Bohemia (and, today, in Slovenia), Thaler or Taler in Germany, Daalder in the Netherlands and Daler in Sweden, Denmark and Norway. The name thaler (from Thal, or nowadays usually Tal, "valley") originally came from the German Guldengroschen ("great gulden", being of silver but equal in value to a gold gulden) coins minted from the silver from a rich mine at Joachimsthal (St. Joachim's Valley) in Bohemia (then part of the Habsburg Empire). The name Spanish dollar was used for a Spanish silver coin, the peso, an eight-real coin, which was widely circulated during the 18th century in the Spanish colonies in the New World. The use of the Spanish dollar and the Maria Theresa thaler as legal tender for the early United States is the reason for the name of the nation's currency. The word dollar was in use in the English language for the thaler for about 200 years before the American Revolution. Spanish dollars, or "pieces of eight" as they were called, were in circulation in the 13 colonies that became the United States, and were legal tender in Virginia.

The dollar was also in use in Scotland during the 17th century, and there is a claim that it was invented at the University of St Andrews.

In China, base unit of the official currency Renminbi is called "Yuan" (元 or 圆 , with a symbol ). The "yuan" is, in fact, a colloquial form of the word "dollar". Spanish dollars were widely circulated in China in the late 19th century. When China adopted its the first national currency in 1914, the base unit was called "Yuan" , which means "dollar". A "yuan" at that time was a coin containing exactly the same amount of silver as a Spanish dollar.

National currencies called "dollar"

Australian dollar Fijian dollar Singapore dollar
Barbados dollar Guyanese dollar Solomon Islands dollar
Bahamian dollar Hong Kong dollar Suriname dollar
Belize dollar International dollar New Taiwan dollar
Bermuda dollar Jamaican dollar Trinidad and Tobago dollar
Brunei dollar Liberian dollar Tuvaluan dollar
Canadian dollar Namibian dollar United States dollar
Cayman Islands dollar New Zealand dollar Zimbabwe dollar
East Caribbean dollar    

Other national currencies using the dollar sign

The dollar sign

Missing image
Evolution of the modern dollar sign.

The origin of the "$" sign has been variously accounted for. Perhaps the most widely accepted explanation, according to the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing, is that it is the result of the evolution of the Mexican or Spanish "Ps" for pesos, or piastres, or pieces of eight (there is also a separate theory that the dollar sign derives from the number 8). This theory, derived from a study of old manuscripts, explains that the floating "S" gradually came to be written over the "P", developing a close equivalent at the top to a distinct "$" mark. Subsequently, a single vertical stroke in place of the "P" became all that was necessary in written form. The symbol was widely used before the adoption of the United States dollar in 1785.

Currency bags issued by the United States Mint were marked with a similar sign of superimposed letters. The letters U and S superimposed resemble the historical double stroke "$" sign. This double stroke dollar sign has been used to refer to US Currency.

The Pillars of Hercules
The Pillars of Hercules

Another possible origin (as found in a Danish book about this sign) is the Pillars of Hercules. When King Ferdinand in 1492 finally was able to put Gibraltar under the new joined rule of the Spanish throne, he adopted the symbol of the Pillars of Hercules and added the Latin phrase Nec plus ultra – indicating the end of the (known) world. But as Christopher Columbus later the same year discovered The Americas, the saying was changed to Plus Ultra – as there was more out there.

This symbol was especially adopted by Charles V and was a part of his coat of arms as a symbol of his American possessions and riches. And when the Spanish conquistadors found gold and silver in the New World, Charles V's symbol was stamped on the coins made from this. These coins with the Pillars of Hercules over two hemispheres (columnarios) were spread around America and Europe, and the symbol was ultimately adopted by the country that became the United States and by many of the continent's other independent nations.

Later on, salesmen wrote signs that, instead of saying dollar, had this handwritten symbol, and in turn this developed to the simple S with two vertical bars.

The dollar symbol is the only currency mark defined in the 7-bit ASCII computer character set. Other character sets contain other currency signs in addition to the dollar.

The dollar sign was used to define string variables in older versions of the BASIC programming language; it is also used to define variables in the Perl and PHP programming languages, and in most Shell scripting languages.da:Dollar de:Dollar es:Dlar eo:Dolaro fa:دُلار fr:Dollar gl:Dlar id:Dolar ko:달러 hr:Dolar it:Dollaro he:דולר lt:Doleris nds:Dollar nn:Dollar nl:Dollar ja:ドル no:Dollar pl:Dolar pt:Dlar ru:Доллар simple:Dollar sv:Dollar zh:銀圓


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