1. money in the form of coins or banknotes, especially that issued by a government.
  2. money or an equivalent, as a check, paid at the time of making a purchase.

verb (used with object)

  1. to give or obtain cash for (a check, money order, etc.).
  2. Cards.
    1. to win (a trick) by leading an assured winner.
    2. to lead (an assured winner) in order to win a trick: He cashed his ace and led the queen.

Verb Phrases

  1. cash in,
    1. to turn in and get cash for (one’s chips), as in a gambling casino.
    2. to end or withdraw from a business agreement; convert one’s assets into cash.
    3. die: After her parents cashed in, she lived with her grandmother.
  2. cash in on, to profit from; use to one’s advantage: swindlers who cash in on the credulity of the public.

  1. cash in one’s chips, Slang. to die.


  1. banknotes and coins, esp in hand or readily available; money or ready money
  2. immediate payment, in full or part, for goods or services (esp in the phrase cash down)
  3. (modifier) of, for, or paid by casha cash transaction
  4. the cash Canadian a checkout counter


  1. (tr) to obtain or pay ready money forto cash a cheque

noun plural cash

  1. any of various Chinese, Indonesian, or Indian coins of low value


  1. Johnny. 1932–2003, US country-and-western singer, guitarist, and songwriter. His recordings include the hits “I Walk the Line” (1956), “Ring of Fire” (1963), “A Boy named Sue” (1969), and the American Recordings series of albums (1994–2003)

“to convert to cash” (as a check, etc.), 1811, from cash (n.). Related: Cashed; cashing.


1590s, “money box;” also “money in hand, coin,” from Middle French caisse “money box” (16c.), from Provençal caissa or Italian cassa, from Latin capsa “box” (see case (n.2)); originally the money box, but the secondary sense of the money in it became sole meaning 18c. Cash crop is attested from 1831; cash flow from 1954; the mechanical cash register from 1878.

Like many financial terms in English (bankrupt, etc.), ultimately from Italian. Not related to (but influencing the form of) the colonial British cash “Indian monetary system, Chinese coin, etc.,” which is from Tamil kasu, Sanskrit karsha, Sinhalese kasi.

In addition to the idioms beginning with cash

  • cash cow
  • cash in
  • cash on the barrelhead

also see:

  • cold cash
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