From wedges to windfalls: the origin of “coin”

In one of my recent weekly Word Watches for the Oxford Dictionaries web log, I highlighted bitcoin, the cryptocurrency whose evaluation continues to skyrocket .
As I explain in the article, the bit in bitcoin – a neologism attributed to its cryptic creator ( s ) Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008 – was shortened from binary digit in 1948. binary digits are those 1 ’ s and 0 ’ sulfur that make our computers work .
And thanks to the success of bitcoin, other cryptocurrencies have besides branded themselves as coins, such as Dogecoin and Peercoin, suggesting -coin is becoming a fat combine signifying a digital currency .
But what of the word coin itself ? Its origins transports us back to some of the earliest days of writing.


Coining coin

The first testify the Oxford English Dictionary ( OED ) finds for coin comes in 1350, when it referred to the cornerstone of a build. now, we call this a quoin, a version shape that emerged in the 1600s aboard coign, preserved in Shakespeare ’ second coign of vantage, or a “ friendly position ” —like a corner, were you can pivot good or left .
The modern monetary coin was already following close behind. By 1362, the OED finds coin for “ the device [ design ] stamped on money, ” extending to a “ objet d’art of money, ” originally gold or silver, by the 1380s .
The verbal coin, “ to make money by stamping alloy, ” is found even earlier than the noun, with the OED dating it to adenine early as 1330. The verb ’ sulfur core concept of “ making ” led to “ devise, invent, ” thus to coin words. here, the OED cites english writer George Puttenham ’ south 1589 The Art of English Poesie :

The coarse fault of young schollers not halfe well studied before they come from the Vniuersitie or schooles, and when they come to their friends, or happen to get some benefice or early promotion in their countreys, will seeme to coigne all right wordes out of the Latin, and to vse newly fangled speaches, thereby to shew thenselues among the ignorant the better learned.

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Kids these days .
english borrowed coin from French, where the word meant “ corner ” or “ lodge, ” as it does today. We can besides find the “ stamping ” sense of coin in Old French, so we know it ’ s not original to English .
Its french rear explains coin ’ mho old “ cornerstone ” sense, but how do we account for “ money ” ? Coins were originally made with dies—tools for cutting and moulding metal—which at one time took the form of wedges. And thus we have a casebook exercise of semantic shift key : Through stopping point association, coin transferred from implement to artifact, from maker to made .
The french coin, though, is ultimately minted from the Latin cuneus, “ wedge. ” The deeper roots of cuneus are ill-defined, with likely ties to the Latin acutus ( “ sharp, ” reference of acute and its truncate cute ) and the Greek konos, which gives us cone.

Besides coin, the Latin cuneus besides lives on in cuneiform, which simply meant “ cuneate ” in the late 17th-century before naming in the 1810s the cuneate write rendered onto clay tablets in ancient Sumer and other early civilizations .
incredible, international relations and security network ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate ? The parole coin takes us from the birth of writing to the brave—and obviously very valuable—new earth of cryptocurrency .

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