A currency symbol or currency sign is a graphic symbol used as a shorthand for a currency’s name, especially about amounts of money. It’s typically special to one country or area but not always. These short currency symbols often show up instead of full currency names in markets worldwide and within countries.
Usually, there are 3 letters used to identify a currency. These represent the country of origin and the name of the currency, e.g. USD (US dollar); EUR (euro), JPY (Japanese Yen).
Understanding the Currency Symbol
When you see a currency symbol next to a number, it means that the number is money. Many of the symbols for the most commonly used and traded currencies are based on the Roman alphabet. Slashes and lines help tell letters apart from currency symbols.
Currencies with their symbols seem more stable and important. Some currencies, like the U.S. dollar (USD) and the British pound sterling (GBP), are famous worldwide because of their symbols.
The pound (£) is used for the British pound, and the dollar ($) symbol represents the U.S. dollar. But other countries also use the $ symbol for their currencies. Sometimes, a symbol might have a country name before it, like CA$ or Can$ for Canadian dollars, or US$ for U.S. dollars.
The € symbol stands for the euro, ¥ is for Japanese yen, and ƒ means a florin, like the Aruban Florin.
Artistic Design of Currency Symbols
In 2009, the Indian government wanted to make the rupee, its currency, more special by giving it a symbol. They asked the public to send in ideas for the symbol, saying it should show the history and culture of India.
Udaya Kumar Dharmalingam, a design professor at India’s Institute of Technology Guwahati, created the winning symbol, ₹.
The euro symbol, €, is well-known worldwide and is seen as a successful design. But there’s a debate about who made it. The European Commission hasn’t said the designer’s name. Some think it’s Belgian graphic designer Alain Billiet, while Arthur Eisenmenger, a former top designer for the European Economic Community, says it was his idea.
Currency Symbols vs. Currency Codes
When you check currency rates, you usually see currency codes instead of symbols. For instance, the euro is shown as EUR. This is because not all currencies have symbols, but they all have codes. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) manages these codes.
Currency rates are always given in pairs, showing the value of one currency compared to another. They use currency codes too. For example, the exchange rate between the U.S. dollar and the Canadian dollar is shown as USD/CAD. If it’s 1.35, it means you need $1.35 Canadian to buy US$1.
If you’re looking at the exchange rate between the euro and the USD, it’s called EUR/USD. If it’s 1.15, it means you need US$1.15 to buy €1.
Yeah! The currency symbol ¤ is used to show an unspecified currency. It looks like a circle the size of a lowercase letter with four short lines coming out. This symbol, known as the “scarab,” was first introduced in 1972.
The exact origins of the dollar sign are still unclear, but some historians believe it might be linked to Oliver Pollock, a wealthy Irish trader who supported the American Revolution. In his letters dating back to 1778, he often used the abbreviation “ps,” sometimes written together.
The position of the currency symbol depends on where you are and the currency you’re using. In many non-English-speaking European countries, the symbol comes after the amount and is followed by a space (like “5 €”). But in English-speaking countries, the symbol comes before the amount with no space (such as “$5”).
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