Origins of Common Words - Budget

About the history, origins, and definitions of the common word budget.

UNCOMMON STORIES BEHIND COMMON WORDS

Budget - From the Old French bougette, meaning literally "little bag." Opinions vary as to how the term arrived at its present meaning. Cotgrave, an English lexicographer of James I's reign, translated it as "a little coffer or trunk covered with leather," and as such it was often applied to a dispatch box in which official papers were kept. Thus in Britain the chancellor of the exchequer traditionally carried his financial statement into Parliament in his "budget." The alternative position holds that in early times a budget was simply a sack (bouge) full of coins, the various sums intended for specified purposes being already sorted into little pouches, or bougettes. Whichever, balancing it then was no simpler than balancing it now.

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