Definition of shilling in English:



  • 1A former British coin and monetary unit equal to one twentieth of a pound or twelve pence.

    • ‘The cult series' writer, producer and voice will take people back to the days of pounds, shillings and pence, tin baths and condensed milk butties.’
    • ‘Buy a little book ruled for the purpose for pounds, shillings and pence and keep an account of cash received and expended.’
    • ‘The more the sheriffs' renders were made in cash, the greater the need for an easily followed but quick method of making calculations in pounds, shillings, and pence.’
    • ‘Within about five minutes however I found out that LSD also stands for pounds, shillings and pence.’
    • ‘I'll take anything, even old pennies from the pound shilling and pence era.’
    • ‘I wonder what these former opponents would have to say if we were told to change back to pounds, shillings and pence?’
    • ‘Knowing that there were 12 pennies to the shilling, and 20 shillings to the pound, was second nature.’
    • ‘The real total was thirty-eight pounds, nine shillings, two pence, but why fiddle with details?’
    • ‘It will be little different from when we scrapped pounds, shillings and pence and switched to the decimal system.’
    • ‘And who would go back to 12 pence to one shilling, 20 shillings to a pound with no calculator?’
    • ‘Long before that, and before my time, the nation had adapted to Decimal Currency from ‘Pounds, shillings and pence’.’
    • ‘The main problem, of course, isn't one of pounds, shillings and pence, it's one of seconds, minutes and hours.’
    • ‘A bold statement of traditional values, in something as close to pounds, shillings and pence as an opposition party will ever allow.’
    • ‘Behind, on a shelf, stands a magisterial cash-register, which looks as if it has been ringing up the pounds, shillings and pence since the dawn of time.’
    • ‘For the purpose of this article I will be figuring a shilling to be worth an average 5 pence (48 shillings to the pound).’
    • ‘The entries note the items purchased, the unit price where applicable, and the total price denominated in pounds, shillings, and pence.’
    • ‘There were twelve pence to a shilling and twenty shillings to a pound.’
    • ‘It sounds even worse in pounds, shillings and pence.’
    • ‘In the early 70s, we lost our pounds, shillings and pence.’
    • ‘For example in old British measures there were twelve inches in a foot, twelve pennies in a shilling etc.’
  • 2The basic monetary unit in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda, equal to 100 cents.

    • ‘Even the fact that there are 2,170 Ugandan shillings to the euro tells its own tale of how wrecked the economy there is.’
    • ‘I browsed and noted the Tanzanian shilling prices being demanded for learned academic tomes on Law, History, Commerce and Science, all of them published in Britain.’
    • ‘As the Kenya shilling fights its way up against the dollar, shareholders are capitalizing on the stock market before, inevitably, the prices start coming down.’
    • ‘There are about 2,000 Tanzanian shillings to the £, but, as with most places in Africa, the locals prefer US dollars.’
    • ‘After joining, I got a loan of 7,000 Kenya shillings.’
    • ‘Granted more than just economic resources go into consumer decisions, but having shillings is one of the most basic.’
    • ‘Usually a two-kilogram tin of both mbuni and cherry go for only five shillings.’
    • ‘Now also operates an internet caf with four computers, charging 10 Kenyan shillings, that's less than one U.S. cent per minute.’
    • ‘At the close of trade on Friday, the Ugandan shilling traded at nearly 2,000 to the U.S. dollar.’
    • ‘The basic monetary unit is the Somali shilling, with one hundred cents equal to one shilling.’


  • not the full shilling

    • informal Very unintelligent or slow.

      ‘he's not the full shilling, but a damn good worker’
      • ‘But they're definitely not the real thing, not the full shilling, so to speak.’
      • ‘Most of them appear not the full shilling so allowing someone to come on and flash the audience given the intelligence levels is something I find deeply uncomfortable.’
      • ‘We've sat in front of them with that sinking feeling, the realisation that this person thinks we're not the full shilling.’
      • ‘Now, he was not the full shilling so to speak and he ended up being cared for from the Parish funds.’
      • ‘But this old lady really is not the full shilling.’
      • ‘They are not the full shilling and could be seen as servants of their creator, masked, and sent forth to accomplish certain limited tasks.’
      • ‘You are the one who clearly is not the full shilling.’
      • ‘She had two nieces who were, apparently, ‘not the full shilling’.’
      • ‘It is not the full shilling and some people are arbitrarily excluded.’
      • ‘‘I'm sure when he asked people's advice he was told ‘you're not the full shilling’ or ‘would you stop behaving like an eejit’.’
      severely mentally ill, mentally ill, insane, mad, certifiable, deranged, demented, of unsound mind, out of one's mind, not in one's right mind, not together, crazed, maniac, maniacal, lunatic, unbalanced, unhinged, unstable, disturbed, distracted, stark mad, manic, frenzied, raving, distraught, frantic, hysterical, delirious, mad as a hatter, mad as a march hare
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  • take the King's (or Queen's) shilling

    • Enlist as a soldier.

      ‘not everyone who graduates goes on to take the Queen's shilling’
      • ‘‘That's what they signed up for, they took the Queen's shilling and you have to do your job,’ she said.’
      • ‘If you take the Queen's shilling, then you have to expect it.’
      • ‘They took the Queen's shilling without asking too many questions about what it involved.’
      • ‘It was changed from New Inn in 1881 because of a feeling of patriotism at the time, and also because this was the place where people could take the King's shilling and join up for the army.’
      • ‘As much as I hate federal requirement and restrictions, it seems to me that he who takes the King's shilling must do the King's bidding.’
      • ‘Except in certain rural areas, ‘to go for a sodger’, ‘to take the King's shilling ’, had for ordinary people been an act of desperation in a time of unemployment or personal catastrophe.’
      • ‘The soldier was no longer an individual who simply took the King's shilling for lack of alternative, but a symbol of a national cause and thus, potentially, a hero.’
      • ‘Tom takes issue with the expression, ‘taking the King's shilling’.’
      • ‘I know he took the Queen's shilling when he signed up and when I signed his papers I gave him my blessing and knew he would see active service, it's just very difficult not knowing.’
      • ‘Geoffrey was just 19 when he followed in his father's footsteps and took the King's shilling.’


Old English scilling, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch schelling and German Schilling.