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December 16, 2004

Slang of the Week: ducat (noun)
dollar; money

Before he got a job, Jeff used to stand outside the McDonalds on Fourth Street every morning at rush hour, asking passersby for “spare ducats.”

Celebrity quote:
“So reach in your billfolds for ten ducats/and pick up this Slim Shady sh*t that's on Rawkus.”
-Eminem, in the song Any Man

Ordinarily, one doesn’t think of Eminem and Shakespeare together, but this is one situation where a comparison is justified. The word ducat got its name from the Duke of Apulia, who made his own silver coins in the twelfth century. It was later used for a variety of gold coins in Europe, especially during the Renaissance.

As a result, you can find this monetary unit mentioned frequently Shakespeare plays, including The Taming of the Shrew, Hamlet, and The Merchant of Venice. While the US has never had a ducat coin, the word has been used in American slang since the 1950s.

It’s now found primarily in hip hop music. As for pronunciation, check out this rhyme from Gravediggaz’ Nowhere to Run: “Another day, another ducat/From here to Nantucket, MC’s kick the bucket (die).”

What’s new at Slang City?
An oldie but goodie! Classic rap from N.W.A. translated. (Warning: offensive lyrics)