Definition of shilling in English:


Line breaks: shil|ling
Pronunciation: /ˈʃɪlɪŋ


  • 1A former British coin and monetary unit equal to one twentieth of a pound or twelve pence.
    More 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.
    More 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.

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Word of the day skosh
Pronunciation: skōSH
a small amount; a little