Definition of shilling in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈʃɪlɪŋ/


1A former British coin and monetary unit equal to one twentieth of a pound or twelve pence.
Example sentences
  • There were twelve pence to a shilling and twenty shillings to a pound.
  • For the purpose of this article I will be figuring a shilling to be worth an average 5 pence (48 shillings to the pound).
  • Buy a little book ruled for the purpose for pounds, shillings and pence and keep an account of cash received and expended.
2The basic monetary unit in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda, equal to 100 cents.
Example sentences
  • As the Kenya shilling fights its way up against the dollar, shareholders are capitalizing on the stock market before, inevitably, the prices start coming down.
  • After joining, I got a loan of 7,000 Kenya shillings.
  • Usually a two-kilogram tin of both mbuni and cherry go for only five shillings.



not the full shilling

British informal Very unintelligent or slow: he’s not the full shilling, but a damn good worker
More example sentences
  • ‘I'm sure when he asked people's advice he was told ‘you're not the full shilling’ or ‘would you stop behaving like an eejit’.
  • We've sat in front of them with that sinking feeling, the realisation that this person thinks we're not the full shilling.
  • She had two nieces who were, apparently, ‘not the full shilling’.

take the King's (or Queen's) shilling

British Enlist as a soldier: not everyone who graduates goes on to take the Queen’s shilling
With reference to the former practice of paying a shilling to a soldier who enlisted
More example sentences
  • It was changed from New Inn in 1881 because of a feeling of patriotism at the time, and also because this was the place where people could take the King's shilling and join up for the army.
  • The soldier was no longer an individual who simply took the King's shilling for lack of alternative, but a symbol of a national cause and thus, potentially, a hero.
  • I know he took the Queen's shilling when he signed up and when I signed his papers I gave him my blessing and knew he would see active service, it's just very difficult not knowing.


Old English scilling, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch schelling and German Schilling.

Words that rhyme with shilling

deskilling, filling, grilling, killing, Pilling, quilling, Schilling, self-fulfilling, Trilling, unfulfilling, willing

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: shil|ling

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.