That phrase has several references in Wikipedia.  Can anyone find out where it was first coined and under what circumstances?  I think it has something to do with illegal activities and the money garnered from those activities.  Help, please. 

    +7  Views: 809 Answers: 4 Posted: 6 years ago

    4 Answers

    I found this.

    Filthy rich


    Very rich, possibly having become so by unfair means.


    This little phrase can't be explained without looking at the word lucre. From the 14th century lucre has meant money and is referred to as such by no less writers than Chaucer and John Wyclif. These references generally included a negative connotation and gave rise to the terms "foul lucre" and "filthy lucre", which have been in use since the 16th century. "Filthy lucre" appears first in print in 1526 in the works of William Tindale:

    "Teachinge thinges which they ought not, because of filthy lucre."

    Tindale was here using the term to mean dishonourable gain.

    Following on the the term "filthy lucre", money became known by the slang term "the filthy", and it isn't a great leap from there to the rich being called the "filthy rich". This was first used as a noun phrase meaning "rich people; who have become so by dishonourable means". It was used that way in America, where it was coined, from the 1920s onwards. Here's an item from the Ohio newspaper The Lima News, February 1929, which deplores the get-rich-quick attitudes of some who were exploiting those who had to sell their homes at unreasonably low prices in order to eat during the economic crash:

    "There is a depressed market. If any of our stock-gambling filthy rich want a winter home, now is the time to acquire it."

    As time went on the negative associations have softened somewhat. It has become to mean "extremely rich" rather than "dishonourably rich", although there may still be a trace of an unfavourable implication associated with it.


    Never saw you there this week hector!

    hector, you have to be rich with a filthy mind to get in there.

    I'm so used to the term it never occurred to me to mean: by ill-gotten gains. Filthy rich is what I never will become, darn it.............

    No country has a closer association with the language of Olde Englande than the USA. From the days of the first Puritan settlers to recent cross-Atlantic tweetings, the two countries have shared in the development of English. Many words and phrases used in the USA have retained Elizabethan English meanings and pronounciations that have long disappeared in the Mother Country. Of course, there are many American phrases which are used there but haven't been adopted outside the country; for example, 'blue plate special', 'lead-pipe cinch' and 'presto chango' are widely understood in the US, but would procure puzzled looks in other English-speaking countries.Here's our list of (some of) the many English phrases are were 'coined in the USA' and now used around the world.

    A shot in the arm
    A sledgehammer to crack a nut
    Acid test - The
    All singing, all dancing
    An arm and a leg
    As easy as pie
    As happy as a clam
    Baby boomer
    Back to the drawing board
    Back-seat driver - A
    Bad hair day - A
    Barking up the wrong tree
    Bats in the belfry
    Be afraid, be very afraid
    Bee's knees - The
    Between a rock and a hard place
    Big fish in a small pond - A
    Birds and the bees - The
    Blast from the past - A
    Blaze a trail
    Blonde bombshell - A
    Born again
    Break a leg
    Brownie points
    Bunny boiler - A
    Bury the hatchet
    Card-sharp - A
    Catch 22
    Chaise lounge
    Chick flick - A
    Climb on the bandwagon
    Close, but no cigar
    Coin a phrase
    Cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey
    Cold turkey
    Cost an arm and a leg
    Customer is always right - The
    Cut to the chase
    Dead ringer - A
    Doom and gloom
    Double whammy
    Down the tubes
    Drop-dead gorgeous
    Ethnic cleansing
    Face the music
    Fancy pants
    Fashion victim - A
    Feeding frenzy - A
    Fifteen minutes of fame
    Filthy rich

     I know it has nothing to do with your question but I really didnt know this very interesting only went up to the Fs


    Hi Melandrupert! Love your answer, but am now curious where all these phrases originated. Guess I'll have a new way of spending my evenings. Hope you are well and happy.

    Bob/PKB they originate from the UK about 2/3 hundred years ago but it was saying that Americans speak and still do the old english and if you look at all the sayings they look new to me but the slang words are real old I thought very interesting xxx

    I'm sure there are dictionaries of slang words and phrases, but it would be fun to collect and publish a book like that. My kids and I used to write all the phrases we could think of that had the work "up" in it. "Look up, Run up, Clear up, Stand up" and so on. We did this with other words; it was fun and got them thinking. Some were xxx rated, of course, but we worked through that, too. :D

    Bob/PKB how true thanks xx

    makes it easier to bills.

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