The origin of the English word Money
by Dr. Valery Osipov – Etymologist
Etymology is the study of the history of words
and how their form and meaning have changed over
I wonder if anyone knows the true sense of the
word MONEY? This word is too old for any direct
information to be known. It is much older than
the modern understanding. The ulterior etymology
of this word is disputed. Its etymology is
The focus idea of this root is “changing”.
Clearly, we can note the same idea in English
CHANGE with the financial meanings of 1.” the
balance of money returned when something is paid
for”; 2.“money of smaller denomination given or
received in exchange for money of higher
denomination”; 3.“to give or receive the
equivalent of money in lower denominations or in
foreign currency”; 4.“coins” . Thus, we can
What is money? Money is a thing used in place of
another one or others. Usually, in place of
goods or services. We use money for the
replacing of one thing for another,
substitution. This act is called in Old Slavonic
MENA- “change, exchange”. The means of this act
is money or MENY (????) (in Old Slavonic). Note,
please, here the resemblance in sounds: MONEY/MENY.
The Czech word for “coin” is MINCE which is
related to German MUNZE – “coin”. Both are
derived from Old Slavic MENTSE (?????) meaning
literally “a small thing for change”. Note once
more: coin is a means for change or exchange.
The Old Slavonic word MENY is plural form from
MENA – “one thing for exchange”. The same sense
has the Latin MINA and Greek MNA. Both mean ”an
ancient unit of weight and value equal to 1?60
talent”. See also the modern Arabic MANN and
Hebrew MANEH. Both for “name of a unit of
We find in Modern Arabic the word MINA – “port”.
What does it have to do with English word
“money”? As a matter of fact, it is of the same
root bearing the idea of exchanging.
Historically, port was a place for the
commercial exchange of goods. It was an
important center of trade (buying and selling).
Similarly, the word “money” has its cognate in
Japanese. The Japanese word MINATO – “port” is
of the same root.
Selene (or Latin Luna), the eye of night, the
sister of the god of the sun, the goddess of the
moon, was also called Mene (Mênê). Why? And what
does this name mean, Mene? It means literally
“she who changes her appearance daily”. Note
also, it is the female divinity who was
presiding over the months.
Words MONEY, MOON and MONTH are closely
associated. All these are cognates. It is quite
clear that the English MOON – “moon”, the
English MONTH – “month”, the Greek MENE –
“moon”, the Greek MEN – “month”, the Lithuanian
MENESIS – “moon, month”, the Russian MESYATS
(?????) – “month, moon”, the Gothic MENA –
“moon”, etc., all are of the same
Proto-Indo-European origin. No chance
resemblance can be systematic nor regular. The
deeper etymology of this root is “changes in
ones appearance” the fact that allows to use
these changes for measuring. We use the moon’s
phases as the measure of time (months).
Similarly, we use money (coins, change) as the
measure of cost.