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Wool, fair and domingo reveal a wealth of ways to talk about dinero

“Prestame una lana,” Ricardo asked me in the bar last night. “I quickly reached for the phrase book. While the word prestar (to lend) presented no problems, the word lana (wool) was puzzling.

Why did he want “wool?” Was this another of his wild ideas? Then he told me that lana was a slang word for dinero.

This was my baptism into the world of money and informal language use in Mexico.

Money is usually referred to as dinero, coins are monedas and bank notes are billetes. Often people will ask you if you have any cambio, which means lose change. The word morralla is used when referring to a lot of lose change. While the word efectivo does mean “effective,” in the world of money this is more likely to refer to cash. Individual coins may have their own names—a peso is sometimes called a pechereque.

When you go out to work, you go to ganar dinero. The verb ganar can mean win or earn—which is Spanish speakers may sometimes come up with the expression “win money” when speaking English.

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