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Oct 10, 2005
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Heath Robinson

$100 bill
Image: US Bureau of Engraving and Printing

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with Anu Garg


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There are thousands and thousands of them. In medicine, botany, chemistry, athletics, and other walks (and runs) of life. We use them all the time without even realizing it. They come with a whole story about themselves. They are words derived from people, real and fictional, from history and mythology. They are known as eponyms. This week we'll meet five of these people and the words coined after their names.

Benjamin (BEN-juh-min) noun

Benjamin is a nickname for the US one-hundred-dollar bill. The name derives from Benjamin Franklin, US statesman, whose portrait adorns the bill.

The US currency notes are printed in the Bureau of Engraving and Printing plants in Washington, DC and Fort Worth, Texas.

I visited the Washington DC money factory a few years back and have to say the place feels a bit surreal. You can see sheets of currency notes rolling through by the millions, as if they were the daily newspaper to be read and discarded. Workers move the giant stacks of uncut sheets with forklifts.

No matter how the economy is going, this is one place that always makes money.

It's perhaps fitting that it's Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), an inventor and printer, whose picture is printed on the highest denomination currency note in circulation in the US.

Earliest documented use: 1994.

"Remember, it's not all about the benjamins. What good is the best price if the seller doesn't actually have the Xbox 360 to ship when you need it?"
Linda Stern; Start Your Browsers!; Newsweek (New York); Oct 10, 2005.

See more usage examples of benjamin in Vocabulary.com's dictionary.


Political freedom cannot exist in any land where religion controls the state, and religious freedom cannot exist in any land where the state controls religion. -Samuel James Ervin Jr., lawyer, judge, and senator (1896-1985)

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