Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Financial, Acronyms, Idioms, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
STERLING. Current money of Great Britain, but anciently a small coin, worth about one penny; and so called, as some suppose, because it was stamped with the figure of a small star, or, as others suppose, because it was first stamped in England in the reign of King John, by merchants from Germany called Esterlings. Pounds sterling, originally signified so many pounds in weight of these coins. Thus we find in Matthew Paris, A.D. 1242, the expression "Accepit a rege pro stipendio tredecim libras esterlingorum." The secondary or derived sense is a certain value in current money, whether in coins or other currency. Lowndes, 14. Watts' Gloss. Ad verbum.