If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll be familiar with my idioms series. This features everyday phrases and sayings in the English language that have strange meanings – and often even stranger origins.
Each post in the series focuses on a different topic. Today it’s the turn of financial idioms and phrases, courtesy of the good folk over at Vouchercloud.
I’ve listed below the individual idioms and their modern meanings. It might not surprise you to discover that a ‘gravy train’ has nothing to do with roast dinners. Or that ‘making a mint’ won’t actually help freshen your breath.
If you’re curious about the etymology behind any of the financial idioms shown here, you can discover their origins along with some slang money-related words such as ‘monkey’ and ‘wonga’.
Financial idioms that won’t break the bank
A bird in the hand (is worth two in the bush) = be satisfied with what you have, rather than taking a risk and potentially losing out entirely
Ballpark figure = an educated guess at a figure; a rough but considered estimate
Born with a silver spoon in your mouth = someone born into a life of luxury or with a great amount of inherited wealth
Breadwinner/Bringing home the bacon = someone who works and earns money for their family; typically the sole or primary earner
Break the bank = use all of your money; spend everything
Cash cow = something that continuously and consistently earns, and will earn, good money
Coin it in = make a good profit; earn a large salary or wage
Feel the pinch = be under financial hardship
Feeling flush = be in possession of a lot of money; suddenly feel rich or extravagant
Fool’s gold = something mistakenly believed to be full of potential reward
Give your tuppence worth/two cents = give an opinion or piece of advice that is often unwelcome or in excess
Going Dutch = split evenly, most commonly used when settling a bill
Gravy train = a situation where lots of money can be made for minimal effort
Grease someone’s palm = offer a bribe or an incentive (often underhanded or sneaky)
Have a whip round = an impromptu collection of money from a group, often for an informal purpose like a birthday gift
If you pay peanuts, you only get monkeys = poor pay will only ever get you poor workers
Living on the breadline = barely scraping by; surviving on minimal income
Make a mint = be making a lot of money, often quickly or efficiently
Money for old rope = gaining money for nothing; being rewarded for very little effort
Nest egg = a (large) amount of money saved for the future, often life savings
Paying through the nose = pay a high price; pay dearly for something
Pretty penny = a large or considerable amount of money
Put paid to = finish something off; put a stop to something
Over to you
Which of these financial idioms do you like best or use most often? Any others that you’d care to add? Please let me know in the comments below.