A couple weeks ago, my husband said something about something costing “Ten Gs” and my mother-in-law said, “Where does that come from, anyway?”

Cue the chime of “Word of the week!” from my kids, LOL.

So obviously we knew that “G” was just short for grand. But why and when did grand start to mean a thousand?

I couldn’t find a a drawn out explanation, but what’s clear is that this slang emerged around 1915, and it was primarily used at the time in the shady side of life–etymonline.com calls it “underworld slang.” So this would have been used, strictly in the monetary sense, by thieves and mobsters and bookies and the like.

What’s also clear is that it comes directly from the adjective, which has long meant things like “large, powerful, chief, important.” Phrases like Grand Canyon and grand slam had already been well established in English, so grand already had the connotation of “the big one.” And since a thousand dollars would have been quite a lot of money back then, it certainly makes sense that it would be considered a grand amount.

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