Understanding the Idiom: "almighty dollar" - Meaning, Origins, and Usage

Idiom language: English
Etymology: Most sources hold this to be a coinage of Washington Irving, alluding to "Almighty God", although a Philadelphia newspaper also used the phrase at approximately the same time and Ben Jonson had used "almighty gold" in 1616 in Epistle to Elizabeth, Countess of Rutland.

Money is a universal language that speaks to everyone, regardless of their background or culture. The idiom “almighty dollar” refers to the power and influence that money holds in society. It highlights how money can be used as a tool to achieve success, status, and control over others.

The phrase “almighty dollar” has been around for centuries and has become deeply ingrained in American culture. It represents the idea that money is all-powerful and can solve any problem or overcome any obstacle. However, this idiom also carries a negative connotation as it suggests that people are willing to do anything for money, even if it means sacrificing their morals or values.

In today’s world, the pursuit of wealth has become an obsession for many individuals. People often measure success based on their financial status rather than their personal achievements or relationships. This mindset has led to a society where greed and materialism reign supreme.

Despite its negative implications, the idiom “almighty dollar” remains relevant in our modern world. It serves as a reminder of the importance of balancing financial goals with personal values and ethics. Ultimately, it is up to each individual to decide whether they want to prioritize money over everything else or strive for a more meaningful existence beyond material possessions.

Origins and Historical Context of the Idiom “almighty dollar”

The phrase “almighty dollar” has become a common idiom in modern English, often used to describe the power and influence that money holds in our society. However, this expression did not emerge out of thin air. It has a rich history dating back to the early days of American currency.

The Birth of American Currency

In the late 18th century, America was still under British rule and relied heavily on British currency for trade. However, with the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, it became clear that America needed its own form of currency to finance the war effort. In 1775, Congress authorized the printing of paper money known as Continental currency.

However, due to rampant inflation caused by overprinting and lack of backing by gold or silver reserves, Continental currency quickly lost its value. This led to widespread distrust in paper money and gave rise to a new phrase: “not worth a Continental.”

The Emergence of “Almighty Dollar”

After gaining independence from Britain and establishing a stable government, America began issuing new forms of currency backed by gold or silver reserves. These coins were highly valued both domestically and internationally for their reliability and stability.

As America’s economy grew stronger throughout the 19th century, so did its reputation for producing high-quality coins. The phrase “almighty dollar” emerged during this time as a testament to the power and prestige associated with American currency.

Today, while some may criticize our society’s obsession with wealth and material possessions represented by this idiom, there is no denying that American currency remains one of our nation’s most valuable assets.

Usage and Variations of the Idiom “almighty dollar”


In the business world, the almighty dollar represents profit and financial success. Companies strive to increase their revenue by any means necessary to satisfy shareholders’ expectations. The pursuit of money can sometimes lead to unethical practices or compromise on quality standards.


Politicians often use the term almighty dollar when referring to lobbying efforts or campaign financing. Money plays a significant role in political campaigns as candidates need funds for advertising, travel expenses, and other related costs. The influence that wealthy donors have on politicians has led many people to question whether democracy is being undermined by big money interests.


In popular culture, references to the almighty dollar are prevalent in music lyrics, movies, television shows, and books. Many artists use this phrase as a metaphor for greed or materialism in modern society. For example, Pink Floyd’s song “Money” criticizes consumerism while highlighting its allure: “Money it’s a gas / Grab that cash with both hands / And make a stash.”


There are several variations of the almighty dollar idiom used around the world. In Europe, people might refer to it as “the mighty euro,” while others may say “the powerful yen” in Japan or “the strong pound” in Britain. These phrases all convey similar meanings but reflect different currencies’ importance depending on where you are located.

Synonyms, Antonyms, and Cultural Insights for the Idiom “almighty dollar”

Synonyms for “almighty dollar”

  • Big bucks
  • Cash cow
  • Moolah
  • Greenbacks
  • Dough
  • Bread
  • Benjamins (referring to $100 bills)

These synonyms all convey the idea of money being powerful or influential in some way. Some may be more commonly used in certain regions or among specific groups of people.

Antonyms for “almighty dollar”

  • Destitution
  • Poverty
  • Broke

While these words may not be direct antonyms for “almighty dollar”, they represent opposite concepts related to financial status.

Cultural Insights:

The phrase “Almighty Dollar” was first coined by Washington Irving in his book ‘The Creole Village’ published in 1837 where he wrote: “There’s nothing like money.” This phrase became popular during the American Civil War when paper currency was introduced and people started using it instead of gold coins. It reflects American culture’s emphasis on wealth and success as symbols of power and status.

Practical Exercises for the Idiom “almighty dollar”

Exercise 1: Write a short paragraph describing a situation where someone prioritized money over other important values or principles. Use the idiom “almighty dollar” in your description.

Example: John was always known for his strong work ethic and dedication to his family. However, when he was offered a job with a higher salary but longer hours, he quickly jumped at the opportunity. Despite knowing that this would mean less time with his family and more stress on his health, John couldn’t resist the allure of the almighty dollar.

Exercise 2: Create a dialogue between two people discussing their financial priorities. Use the idiom “almighty dollar” at least once in your dialogue.


Person A: I don’t know how you can justify spending so much money on those designer clothes.

Person B: Hey, I work hard for my money and I deserve to treat myself every now and then.

Person A: But is it really worth sacrificing other things just for the sake of the almighty dollar?

Person B: It’s not just about money, it’s about feeling good about yourself too.

Exercise 3: Rewrite these common phrases using “almighty dollar” instead of their original words:

– Money talks

– Cash is king

– You get what you pay for


– The almighty dollar talks

– The almighty dollar is king

– You get what you pay with the almighty dollar

By completing these exercises, you will be better equipped to use the idiom “almighty dollar” in a variety of contexts and understand its meaning more deeply. Keep practicing and soon enough, you’ll be using this phrase like a pro!

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Using the Idiom “almighty dollar”

When it comes to using idioms, it’s important to understand their meaning and context. The idiom “almighty dollar” is commonly used in English to refer to the power and influence of money. However, there are some common mistakes that people make when using this idiom.

One mistake is assuming that the idiom only applies to American currency. While the phrase originated in America, it has since been adopted by English speakers around the world and can be used with any currency.

Another mistake is using the idiom too broadly or inappropriately. For example, saying “I’ll do anything for the almighty dollar” may come across as greedy or unethical. It’s important to use this idiom thoughtfully and appropriately.

Additionally, some people may mistakenly believe that the idiom only refers to personal wealth or financial gain. In reality, it can also be used in a broader sense to describe situations where money holds significant power or influence.

Finally, it’s important not to overuse this idiom or rely on it too heavily in communication. Like any other expression, using it excessively can dilute its impact and effectiveness.

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