Currency nicknames – the secret handshake of traders

optical joke with 20 pounds folded and a lady behind it

Currency nicknames revealed and explained.  Uncover the codenames used by pro traders to become a true member of the currency exchange community.

Have you ever wondered what did the financial news lady or professional forex traders mean by:  “…Sterling slipped and took a sudden plunge”? or “…Barnie is struggling to regain stability”?

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Barnie is struggling?

Barnie and fred Flinstone

Sterling takes a plunge?

fat man jumps in a swimming pool

Something like in the pictures above? Most probably not.  Sterling and Barnie are two of the multiple currency nicknames that are used by experienced forex traders. Those nicknames are used quite often and act almost as a secret handshake that separates the seasoned traders from the newbies.

It can be useful to know at least the nickname of the currency you are planning to trade and where to find the rest in case of uncertainty. Why do people use nicknames for the forex currencies? Mainly for the ease of use, as for example it is quite frustrating to repeat the full name “New Zealand dollar” so instead a short nickname kiwi is used.

But there are exceptions where the nicknames are more complex than the official names (for example euro – single currency) and some nicknames have been developed to give the currencies extra meaning, added value or to memorize important historical events.

Nicknames for the most popular currencies and their pairs

  • USD (U.S. Dollar) – Greenback or Buck
  • GBP (British Pound) – Sterling
  • GBP/USD (British Pound / U.S. Dollar pair) – Cable
  • EUR (Euro) – Single currency or Fiber
  • CHF (Swiss Franc) – Swissy
  • CAD (Canadian Dollar) – Loonie
  • AUD (Australian Dollar) – Aussie or Ozzie
  • NZD (New Zealand Dollar)- Kiwi
  • USD/RUB (U.S. Dollar / British Pound pair) – Barnie
  • EUR/RUB (Euro / Russian Rubble) – Betty
  • GBP/JPY (British Pound / Japanese Yen pair) – Guppy or Gopher
  • EUR/JPY (Euro / Japanese Yen pair) – Euppy (pronounced Yuppy)
  • USD/JPY (U.S. Dollar / Japanese Yen pair) – Ninja
  • EUR/GBP (Euro / British Pound pair) – Chunnel

Some of the nicknames have interesting origins. So how did these nicknames develop and where do they come from.

Why is dollar called greenback?

Old US dollar banknote called greenback

U.S. dollar is called greenback because the paper notes issued during the American civil war in 1861. Those notes had a distinctive green coloring on the back.

USD second nickname – buck

U.S. dollar is called buck from times when deer skin (male deers are called bucks) was used by American Indians for trading with dollars.

origins of us dollar nickname buck indians

Why is Euro also called fiber?

5 euro banknote magnified to see fibre

Euro currency’s nickname fiber has the least known explanation, but many say that it comes from the fact that the paper used for euro banknotes consists of pure cotton fiber which makes it more durable and gives it a special feel.

Why is GBP/USD (British pound and U.S. dollar pair) called cable?

GBP/USD currency pair is called the cable since there was a cable under the Atlantic ocean linking UK with USA which was used to synchronize British pound with U.S. dollar by a telegraph. The cable was laid in 1858 and made it possible to transmit currency prices from London’s to New York’s trading desks.

Telegraph cable under the atlantic for GBP USD

Why is British pound (GBP) called sterling?

One pound of Sterling silver in a shape of pound symbol

British pound is officially called pound sterling and it is not just a nickname. It sometimes gets abbreviated to either pound or sterling. Name sterling comes from times when the british pound had an equal value to one pound of sterling silver.

Why is Canadian dollar called loonie?

Loonie is a nickname for Canadian dollar as one dollar coin carries an image of a bird called „loon” that is a popular species in Canada.

one canadian dollar coin loonie

Why is New Zealand dollar called kiwi?

kiwi bird

New Zealand dollar has a nickname kiwi which represents the national symbol of New Zealand – a bird called kiwi. It is small, brown, furry and can’t fly – just like a kiwi fruit.

Why is euro called single currency?

Euro is often called single currency as it is used in 24 European countries. It was first introduced in 1999 and now is the second biggest reserve currency after U.S. dollar.

Euro symbol single currency on a globe

What are Flintstones’ neighbors doing in foreign exchange?

Barnie and betty rubbles

USD/RUB and EUR/RUB pairs are called Barnie and Betty respectively. These two nicknames are newcomers to the forex nickname family. Rubble is not only the currency in Russia, but also the family name of Barnie and Betty – the neighbours of Flinstones.

Which currency pair is called Chunnel and why?

EUR/GBP currency pair is sometimes called Chunnel  which is an abbreviation of the Channel Tunnel that joins the channel between Britain and France (Europe).

Chunnel - tunnel joining britain and france

As you see many of these nicknames have national or geographic character. That’s why the nicknames may also vary in different parts of the world.