When not referring to the actual Mongolian currency, what nuances does the term "тугрик" have, if any?

For example, does it imply that the currency is weak?

  • It's rather a metaphor than a slang, introduced by some writers, and if you find it in literature, that actually may mean that currency or some similar currency of unknown name ( in time when precious metal coins were still in use , late XIX century mostly, tugriks could have extended area of use among sailors). But as modern colliquial it's a jokingly given name for any strange currency (e.g. curency for microtransactions in games)
    – Swift
    Commented Apr 18, 2017 at 5:39
  • by the way., originally it was just local name of chinese coins. chinese transliteration of that word, that literally meant coin, is still used as official name for chinese currency :P
    – Swift
    Commented Apr 18, 2017 at 5:47
  • @Swift - You should know that Mongolia is exactly the very place on Earth which is situated the farthest away from seas and oceans than any other place on Earth, that's why sailors can hardly use tughriks. ;) And more precisely, "tughrik" means " round", not "coin".
    – Yellow Sky
    Commented Apr 19, 2017 at 19:52
  • not to mention tugrik was not introduced before XX century and has never been in wide circulation outside Mongolia
    – Quassnoi
    Commented Apr 20, 2017 at 2:45
  • @Yellow Sky "round coin" , "round object" . 'round" and coin in that case are synonyms. Strangest synonyms exist, e.g. in Russian word for female genitalia is synonym for prospect of being beaten. Mongolian , Vietnamese and Korean currency in their name all derived from Chinese coins. The phrase I mentioned was actually meaning Chinese money unit , depicted by round solid coin, otherwise known as yuan (not modern renminbi currency).If you not know, they had round, hex, square coins, round coin was "whole". Officially MNT exist from 1926, said quote dated by ~30 years before that.
    – Swift
    Commented Apr 20, 2017 at 20:12

3 Answers 3


It usually metaphorically means "some obscure local currency", hardly known and hardly usable outside the country of origin; "some kind of monetary surrogate of limited use and circulation" (such as chits, company store vouchers, in-game currency in online games etc.).

It's close in meaning to English "monopoly money" or "funny money".

В портах, куда мы заходили, нам выдавали ― донги или еще какие тугрики.

Я не стал говорить Владимиру, что местные тугрики тоже называются долларами

Тут надо заметить, что в Мексике местные тугрики обозначают таким же значком, как доллары


The term as a reference to exotic currency was widepread during times of Soviet international contracts. Since nineties, the meaning became broader.

Phonosemantically and similar to cockney rhyming slang, the term implies a joking attitude (towards the topic, the situation, the currency, goods, etc.).

In this context it can refer not just to an exotic monetary unit, but to Russian roubles or more usual currency as well:

Есть тугрики?

Давай тугрики!


As a native speaker I understand it as just a slang term for "money", similar to "капуста", not sure that teenagers are using it, probably adult audience is more inclined to use it ;-)

  • капуста got relation with US slang terms.. and got long time relationship with now obsolete "greenbacks".
    – Swift
    Commented Apr 18, 2017 at 5:36

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