The dollar sign or peso sign ($ or ) is a symbol used to indicate the units of various currencies around the world, including the peso and the US dollar. The symbol can interchangeably have one or two vertical strokes. In common usage, the sign appears to the left of the amount specified, e.g. "$1", read as "one dollar".
There are several hypotheses about the origin of the dollar sign.
The sign is first attested in Spanish American, American, Canadian, Mexican and other British business correspondence in the 1770s, referring to the Spanish American peso, also known as "Spanish dollar" or "piece of eight" in North America, which provided the model for the currency that the United States adopted in 1792 and the larger coins of the new Spanish American republics such as the Mexican peso, Peruvian eight-real and Bolivian eight-sol coins.
This explanation holds that the sign evolved out of the Spanish and Spanish American scribal abbreviation "p?" for pesos. A study of late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century manuscripts shows that the s gradually came to be written over the p, developing into a close equivalent to the "$" mark. A variation, though less plausible, of this hypothesis derives the sign from a combination of the Greek character "psi" (?) and "S".
Among the various hypotheses, the simplest one is that the barred S is actually a typo modified 8, from its obvious link with the pieces of eight, the popular name of the Spanish dollar. The added (single or double) bar should be the same commonly used to distinguish a letter dedicated to a currency value, like £.
Kingdom of Sicily deniers minted by Manfred of Hohenstaufen in the Kingdom of Sicily between 1258 and 1266 had what can be construed as an early dollar symbol. These coins were widely circulated outside Europe due to the Crusades, including the Crusade that targeted Tunis.
Another hypothesis holds that the sign derives from the symbolic representation of the Pillars of Hercules. This representation can have either a banner separately around each pillar, or, as in the Spanish coat of arms, a banner curling between them.
In 1492, Ferdinand II of Aragon adopted the symbol of the Pillars of Hercules and added the Latin warning Non plus ultra meaning "nothing further beyond", indicating "this is the end of the (known) world". But when Christopher Columbus came to America, the legend was changed to Plus ultra, meaning "further beyond". The Pillars of Hercules wrapped in a banner thus became a symbol of the New World. The link between this symbol and the dollar sign is more clearly seen in Spanish coins of the period, which show two pillars, each with a separate banner, rather than one banner spanning both pillars. In this example the right-hand pillar resembles the dollar sign, and additionally directly relates to the use of money.
The symbol was adopted by Charles V and was part of his coat of arms representing Spain's American possessions. The symbol was later stamped on coins minted in gold and silver. The coin, also known as Spanish dollar, was the first global currency used in the world since the Spanish Empire was the first global empire. These coins, depicting the pillars over two hemispheres and a small "S"-shaped ribbon around each, were spread throughout America, Europe and Asia. According to this, traders wrote signs that, instead of saying "Spanish dollar" (piece of eight, real de a ocho in Spanish or peso duro), had this symbol made by hand, and this in turn evolved into a simple S with two vertical bars. When the United States gained their independence from Great Britain, they created the US dollar, but in its early decades they continued to use the Spanish dollar, which was more trusted in all markets.
The United States, even after independence, was still using the pound sterling as currency. This is attested in state legislation of the early 1780s, referring to pounds and pence, which predated the U.S. Constitution and federal legislation.
Given the origin of this theory - related to Spanish (and Portuguese) colonisation of the Americas - it is likely that the cifrão or peso signs share the same origin, and that the double stroke usage is merely a stylistic variant, rather than a distinct character.
Several alternative hypotheses relate specifically to the dollar sign drawn with two vertical lines.
A dollar sign with two vertical lines could have started off as a monogram of 'USA', used on money bags issued by the United States Mint. The letters U and S superimposed resemble the historical double-stroke dollar sign : the bottom of the 'U' disappears into the bottom curve of the 'S', leaving two vertical lines. It is postulated in the papers of Dr. James Alton James, a professor of history at Northwestern University from 1897 to 1935, that the symbol with two strokes was an adapted design of the patriot Robert Morris in 1778. Robert Morris was such a zealous patriot - known as the "Financier of the Revolution in the West" - that James came to believe that this hypothesis is viable. A similar idea claims that the letters U and S would stand for unit of silver, referencing pieces of eight again, but that is unlikely since one would expect it to be in Spanish instead.
Another hypothesis is that it derives from the symbol used on a German Thaler. According to Ovason (2004), on one type of thaler one side showed a crucifix while the other showed a serpent hanging from a cross, the letters NU near the serpent's head, and on the other side of the cross the number 21. This refers to the Bible, Numbers, Chapter 21 (see Nehushtan).
A similar symbol, constructed by superposition of "S" and "I" or "J", was used to denote German Joachimsthaler ("S" and "J" standing for St. Joachim who gave his name to the place where the first thalers were minted). It was known in the English-speaking world by the 17th century, appearing in 1686 edition of An Introduction to Merchants' Accounts by John Collins.
Robert Morris was the first to use this symbol in official documents and in official communications with Oliver Pollock. The U.S. dollar was directly based on the Spanish Milled Dollar when, in the Coinage Act of 1792, the first Mint Act, its value was fixed (per the U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 8, clause 1 power of the United States Congress "To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures") as being "of the value of a Spanish milled dollar as the same is now current, and to contain three hundred and seventy-one grains and four sixteenth parts of a grain of pure, or four hundred and sixteen grains of standard silver".
According to a plaque in St Andrews, Scotland, the dollar sign was first cast into type at a foundry in Philadelphia, United States in 1797 by the Scottish immigrants John Baine, Archibald Binney and James Ronaldson.
The dollar sign appears as early as 1847 on the $100 Mexican War notes and the reverse of the 1868 $1000 United States note. The dollar sign also appears on the reverse of the 1934 $100,000 note.
In Japanese and Korean, the Han character ? has been repurposed to represent the dollar sign due to its visual similarity.
The dollar sign is one of the few symbols that are almost universally present in computer character sets but rarely needed in their literal meanings within computer software. As a result, the character has been used on computers for many purposes unrelated to money. Its uses in programming languages have often influenced or provoked its uses in operating systems and applications.
The dollar sign "$" has Unicode code point U+0024 (inherited from Latin-1).
There are no separate characters for one- and two-line variants. This is typeface-dependent.
There are also three other code points that originate from other East Asian standards: the Taiwanese small form variant, the CJK fullwidth form, and the Japanese emoji. The glyphs for these code points are typically larger or smaller than the primary code point, but the difference is mostly aesthetic or typographic, and the meanings of the symbols are the same.
However, for usage as the special character in various computing applications (see following sections), U+0024 is typically the only code that is recognized.
promptcommand to insert special sequences into the DOS command prompt string.
> touch my_first_file > echo "This is my file." > !$
Draw$Dirspecifies the directory where the
!Drawapplication is located. It is also used to refer to the root directory of a file system.
Some currencies use the cifrão (), similar to the dollar sign, but always with two strokes:
In Mexico and other peso-using countries, the cifrão is used as a dollar sign when a document uses both pesos and dollars at the same time, to avoid confusion, but when the dollar sign is used alone (not in conjunction with the cifrão), it is usually represented as US $ (United States dollars) or by its ISO 4217 code "USD". Example: US $5 or 5 USD (five U.S. dollars).
However, in Argentina, the $ sign is always used for pesos, and if they want to indicate dollars, they always write U$S 5 or US$5 (5 US dollars).
In the United States, Mexico, Australia, Argentina, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Pacific Island nations, and English-speaking Canada, the dollar or peso symbol precedes the number. Five dollars or pesos is written and printed as $5, whereas five cents is written as 5¢. In French-speaking Canada, the dollar symbol usually appears after the number (5$).
The symbol is sometimes used derisively to indicate greed or excess money such as in "Micro$oft", "George Luca$", "Lar$ Ulrich", "Di$ney", "Chel$ea" and "GW$"; or supposed overt Americanisation as in "$ky". The dollar sign is also used intentionally to stylize names such as A$AP Rocky, Ke$ha and Ty Dolla $ign or words such as ¥EUR$. In 1872, Ambrose Bierce referred to the California Governor as $tealand Landford.
Dollar sign was used as a letter in Turkmen alphabet from 1993 to 1999.
The foreign coins remained in circulation [in the United States], and the more important among them, especially the Spanish (including the Mexican) dollars, were declared by Congress on February 9, 1793, to be legal tender. The dollar sign, $, is connected with the peso, contrary to popular belief, which considers it to be an abbreviation of 'U.S.' The two parallel lines represented one of the many abbreviations of 'P,' and the 'S' indicated the plural. The abbreviation '$.' was also used for the peso, and is still used in Argentina.