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Origin behind symbols of Dollar [$], Pound [£], & Euro [€] currencies

Currency symbols reflect economic identity, national pride, and are easily identifiable in global trade

A man counting US dollars
  • Currency symbols are powerful icons of economic identity, national pride, and global trade
  • The dollar, pound, and euro symbols among the most popular currencies in the world
  • The dollar, pound, and euro symbols have unique historical and economic significance

Currency symbols are more than just shorthand for monetary units; they are powerful icons of economic identity, national pride, and global trade.

This article gets into the history and symbolism behind three of the most prominent currency symbols: the dollar sign ($), the pound sign (£), and the euro sign (€).

Each symbol has a unique story that reflects its historical and economic significance.


The pound, euro and the dollar currently rank number five, nine and ten respectively in the strongest world currencies list in 2024.

The dollar sign ($) is one of the most recognisable currency symbols worldwide. Its origins, however, are somewhat debated.

One widely accepted theory is that the symbol evolved from the Spanish peso, which was represented by the abbreviation 'ps.'

Over time, the 'p' and 's' were combined and stylised into the single '$' symbol we use today.


Another theory suggests that the dollar sign originated from the letters 'U' and 'S' (for United States) superimposed on each other, but this theory is less widely accepted.

The pound sign (£) has a rich history that dates back to medieval times. It is derived from the Latin word 'libra,' which means scales or balance. The symbol itself is a stylised version of the letter 'L' with a crossbar, referencing the libra unit of weight.


Often simply called the pound, it is one of the oldest currencies still in use. The term 'pound' originates from the weight of one pound of silver, which was used as a standard of value in Anglo-Saxon England.

The symbol (£) evolved from the Latin abbreviation 'lb,' for libra, which was used in Roman times to denote weight.


The euro sign (€) is one of the newest currency symbols, introduced in the late 20th century with the creation of the euro. The euro is the official currency of the Eurozone, which comprises 19 of the 27 European Union member states.

The euro sign was designed by the European Commission as part of the process of introducing a single European currency. The design was selected through a competition, and the chosen symbol was created by a team of four experts.

The symbol (€) is inspired by the Greek letter epsilon (Є), representing Europe, and features two parallel lines that signify stability.



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