One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Any of various gold coins used in Europe or Scotland in the 17th and 18th centuries.
- ‘This may suggest that during this period the pound was considered approximately equivalent in value to the pistole, a gold coin of Spanish or French origin.’
- ‘According to a chart published in an almanac in 1759, in New York the Spanish pistole was equivalent to £1 / 9 / 0, and the French pistole was equivalent to £1 / 8 / 0.’
Late 16th century: from French, abbreviation of pistolet, in the same sense, of uncertain ultimate origin.
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