One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Originally: a papal silver coin, first struck during the pontificate of Paul III (1543–9), roughly equivalent in value to the giulio and circulating throughout the papal territories. Later also: a similar coin circulating locally in another Italian state, especially one produced in Tuscany from the 16th to the 19th centuries.
Early 17th century; earliest use found in Fynes Moryson (?1566–1630), traveller and writer. From Italian paolo from Paolo, the name of St Paul and of Pope Paul III.
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