One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
(A) A money of account used in various parts of western Europe between the 8th and 12th centuries, and in England equivalent to thirty silver pence, two and a half twelve-pence shillings, or six five-pence shillings. Also: (the name of) a coin of this value. (b) A unit of weight (especially of gold) equivalent to the weight of thirty silver pence.
Old English. From post-classical Latin mancusus, mancusa a money of account equivalent to thirty pence, a weight equivalent to thirty pence, probably also the name of a type of coin (goes to Old Saxon mancus a golden coin worth thirty pence (glosses bazanticum, aureus), Old High German manchussa (accusative plural) golden coin (glosses solidos, aureos, philippos)); further etymology disputed. The Latin word, which occurs frequently in documents from Germany, France, Italy, and Spain, probably appears earliest as an adjective modifying solidus. It is explained by some as a blend of classical Latin mancus and percussus, past participle of percutere. Others (usually in association with wider arguments concerning circulation of Arabic gold in Europe) suggest an etymology from Arabic manqūš engraved, sculptured, inscribed, passive participle of naqaša to engrave, sculpture, inscribe.
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