sterling, n.1 and adj.
The earliest known example (in the French form esterlin ) is believed to occur in a charter of the Norman abbey of Préaux (Round Cal. Documents, France, p. 111). The date is supposed to be either 1085 or 1104, on the evidence of the golden number, but so far as this is concerned it might be later by 19 years or a multiple of 19; the cartulary is of the 13th cent. Ordericus Vitalis (a1145) has in Latin librae sterilensium , and librae sterilensis monetæ , as if he took the word for an -ing derivative of a place-name. The Anglo-Latin sterlingus is cited by Ducange from the year 1180. Continental examples are frequent in the 13th cent., the excellence of the English penny having procured for it extensive currency in foreign countries; in Oct. 1202, Baldwin Count of Flanders contracts to pay to certain Venetian nobles ‘the sum of 121 ounces in marks sterling (marcas sterlinorum) at the rate of 13 “solidi” and 4 “denarii” for each silver mark’ (Rawdon Brown, Cal. State Papers, Venice I. 1).
a. The English silver penny of the Norman and subsequent dynasties. Often in pound of sterlings, originally a pound weight of silver pennies, afterwards a name for the English pound (240 pence) as a money of account. Also in mark, shilling, etc. of sterlings . Obs. exc. Hist.
b. Sc. Applied to the Scottish penny.This use is sometimes erroneously said to go back to the 12th c., on the ground of its occurrence in the so-called ‘Assize of David I’, which is a compilation of later date.
†c. With ellipsis of of, in pound sterlings, mark, etc. sterlings . Obs.Chiefly with the plurals pounds, marks, etc., and hence in later use prob. apprehended as an adj. with plural inflection.
†b. sterling weight n. Obs. = pennyweight n.In the Table ‘sterling weight’ is stated in pounds, shillings, and pence; the lb. avoirdupois = 1lb. 2oz. 10dwt. troy, £1. 1s. 2d. sterling.
3. Money of the quality of the sterling or standard silver penny; genuine English money. †In the 17th c. occas. used rhetorically for: Money.
a. English money as distinguished from foreign money. Formerly often in contrast to currency, i.e. the depreciated pounds, shillings, and pence of certain colonies.
b. fig. in Australian use. (See quots.)
c. attrib. with the sense: Related to or payable in sterling. sterling area n. the group of countries (chiefly of the British Commonwealth, from 1947 officially known as scheduled territories: see scheduled territory n. at scheduled adj. Special uses) that from 1931 to 1972 pegged their exchange rates to sterling, or kept their reserves in sterling and not in gold or dollars, and transferred money freely amongst themselves; also sterling bloc(k) , sterling group. sterling balances n. deposits in sterling which are held in British banks by overseas creditors (see also quot. 1948).
†5. Standard degree of fineness. Obs.The sense was prob. evolved from traditional expressions like ‘as good as the sterling’ (see quot. 1423 at sense A. 1a).
a. Prefixed as the distinctive epithet of lawful English money or coin. Now rare. †Also, in early Sc. use, of lawful Scots money.
b. Phrase, to pass for (later as) sterling . Chiefly fig. Also, to allow, mark for sterling .
†c. fig. That has course or currency. Obs.
a. Of silver: †Having the same degree of purity as the penny. (obs.) Hence, in later use: Of standard quality. sterling mark, sterling stamp: the hallmark guaranteeing sterling quality.With the first quot. 1488-9 cf. quot. 1423 at sense A. 1a.
b. In figurative context. (Passing into sense A. 4)
c. absol. Sterling silver tableware.
4. Of character, principles, qualities, occas. of persons: Thoroughly excellent, capable of standing every test.
st - ur - l - i - ng
|st||st||as in stay, post (main stress)|
|ɜː||ur||as in burn|
|l||l||as in leap, hill|
|ɪ||i||as in pit, hill|
|ŋ||ng||as in singing, think|
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