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August 12, 2004

Slang of the Week: benjie (noun)
A one hundred dollar bill (short for Benjamin)

Masie thought Hank was rich when he took out a huge wad of cash to pay for the drinks, but all that paper was really a Michigan bankroll – a benjie wrapped around a hundred $1 bills.

Celebrity quote:
“I got more money than George Strait,
I throw benjies out the window all day,
Just to see how far they fly, bye bye.”
-Country singers Big & Rich in The Real World

This week, it’s all about the Benjamins. Because early American statesman and inventor Benjamin Franklin is pictured on the $100 bill, his name has become synonymous with the C-note (another slang expression for $100), especially in rap music.

It’s worth noting that while the slang seems obvious, we do not normally call a $20 bill an Andrew (Jackson) or a $50 bill a Ulysses (S. Grant) even though their pictures appear on that currency. More often, these bills are called by the men’s last names. Because former leaders like Grant and Jackson are shown on most bills, dead presidents is slang for US paper money.

However, Ben Franklin was never president. And although most Americans associate him with his famous commonsense quotations from Poor Richard’s Almanack such as, “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise,” Franklin did not always follow his own advice. In fact, he was something of a player, who fathered an illegitimate child and admitted in his autobiography that a “hard-to-be-governed passion of youth hurried me frequently into intrigues with low women that fell in my way...” Perhaps that’s why rappers feel comfortable calling him familiarly by his first name.

What’s new at Slang City?
“You all are about as useful as a poopy flavored lollipop.” It might not be an Olympic sport, but Dodgeball is an American tradition. Check out our translated quotes from the movie.