"Cash money": cool or dead or both?

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According to Know Your Meme,

That Wasn't Very Cash Money of You is a catchphrase associated with a drawing of the character Sayaka Miki from Puella Magi Madoka Magica wearing sunglasses. The phrase uses "cash money" to mean "cool." The image was turned into an exploitable in which other characters say the phrase, and the phrase itself has been paired with images of other characters, usually wearing sunglasses.

Among the many exploitations of this exploitable, there are a few unexpected ones:


Recently, I heard the phrase used — and discussed — by a group of first-year college students. And in the course of the discussion, it emerged that none of the half-dozen participants normally carry or use cash any more, in harmony with the many news and feature stories about the death of cash.

So is cash money used to mean "cool" because it's rare? The consensus in the discussion pointed to the "make it rain" (cash) phrase, by which cash money becomes the source of (a certain sort of) social credit rather than a medium of commercial exchange.


  1. Erin said,

    March 6, 2020 @ 12:10 am

    FWIW, my students "talk cash money" at home games to members of our opponents' teams. Doesn't matter which sport, though I heard the phrase used at volleyball matches, which are very popular at our small, diverse, Midwestern college.

  2. Philip Taylor said,

    March 6, 2020 @ 12:31 am

    What does "to talk cash money" mean, Erin ? I was unaware of the "cool" meaning of the original phrase until I read Mark's article, but even a Google search fails to shed any light on "to talk cash money".

  3. Annie Gottlieb said,

    March 6, 2020 @ 12:49 am

    This comes from something like Cockney rhyming slang, without the users knowing it, maybe by way of (or independent reinvention by) hip-hop culture. "Cash money" means "cool" by . . . I don't know the term for this kind of transformation (you may) . . . so I'll just call it, by association or "mission creep" from the expression "cool cash." And "talk cash money" comes by rhyme from "talking trash."

    I think links aren't allowed here? but Googling "Cockney rhyming slang" brings up a top result from Rice University, a long list of code terms that are really far-fetched, and that reveal the origins of some still-familiar expressions, e.g., "bread" for "money" comes from the rhyme "bread and honey."

  4. Rob P. said,

    March 6, 2020 @ 1:18 am

    Cash Money for cool most likely comes via hip-hop from the Cash Money Brothers gang from the 80s and 90s, fictionalized in the movie New Jack City.

  5. Philip Taylor said,

    March 6, 2020 @ 1:21 am

    Annie, thank you for that. In my experience, links are permitted (possibly subject to some pre-moderation) and will take the form <A href="https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=cockney+rhyming+slang">link text <A>.

  6. Philip Taylor said,

    March 6, 2020 @ 1:37 am

    Sorry, the <A> element in the preceding was not properly closed. The comment should have read :

    Annie, thank you for that. In my experience, links are permitted (possibly subject to some pre-moderation) and will take the form <A href="https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=cockney+rhyming+slang">link text</A>

    and I have included an example.

  7. a s said,

    March 6, 2020 @ 1:48 am

    I've always thought this was only funny because "cash money" sounds dorky, which pairs with it being a reprimand to sound like something a dad would say.

  8. A.M.Thomson said,

    March 6, 2020 @ 3:25 am

    This speech bubble was originally written in Japanese. The adapter has chosen to use the expression "cash money." Is this a direct translation or an expression considered equivalent to a Japanese slang term?

    If the latter, it may be possible to ask the translator/adapter what the intention was, and what the original was. If the former, the situation is even more twisted — how did cash money = cool make its way into Japanese? And is it written kashi manii?

  9. Philip Taylor said,

    March 6, 2020 @ 5:40 am

    "This speech bubble was originally written in Japanese" — Can you post a link to the Japanese original, please ? I have tried Google image search, even removing the English-language text but leaving a blank speech bubble in place, and failed to find it.

  10. J.W. Brewer said,

    March 6, 2020 @ 7:39 am

    As noted above the rap-slang lineage is old enough (e.g. Ca$h Money Records was founded in 1991) as to predate Venmo and the decline of young people habitually carrying cash by a full generation. Although I suppose that doesn't preclude Today's Young People reinterpreting it to fit their circumstances in a folk-etymology kind of way?

  11. J.W. Brewer said,

    March 6, 2020 @ 7:46 am

    The earliest possibly non-literal hit I can find in COCA is from a 1990 episode of the tv show In Living Color, in a comedy sketch satirizing tv preachers (African-American subdivision):

    And now, from the Faith Ministry Church… it's time once again for another Hour Of Power TVprayer. – Hallelujah. – Hallelujah, brothers. Hallelujah! Greetings, brothers and sisters. Welcome to another Hour Of Power. This is TV prayer. My name is the Reverend M. Cash. Cash Money, y'all. And I'm Reverend Dr. Carl [Pathos]. [Exhales] – And we're gon na double-team your faith today. – Praise the Lord. That's right. We're gon na reach down into your soul and get you in the mood. We're gon na get you excited. We're gon na make you feel good. I'm telling you, if all I had was a clock in my pants… it would be high noon right now.

  12. Ed M said,

    March 7, 2020 @ 2:55 am

    I think the phrase "cash money" has been around longer than suggested above. I grew up in Kansas in the 1950s and it was not uncommon to hear phrases such as "he got that house with cash money", or "that car cost cash money", or "I promise you it's true – cash money".

  13. Philip Taylor said,

    March 7, 2020 @ 3:15 am

    The Google n-grams viewer shews "cash money" going right back to 1876 : "C. C. Edwins proved a defaulter for, I believe, $8,500, and I believe that was cash money that came in by express, or mail, which he received", with a peak at 1940.

  14. maidhc said,

    March 8, 2020 @ 8:49 pm

    All those other usages are making it hard to search, but I have an idea that around the period of the American Civil War, "cash money" was the alternative to "greenbacks" or paper money, which people didn't really trust.

  15. Julian said,

    March 9, 2020 @ 3:00 pm

    "Money" has been used to mean "cool" for a long time, in various subcultures, for reasons the semantics of which should be obvious between the semantic overlap that status has with wealth and phrases like "on the money".

    It's got a particular tongue-in-cheek sort of irony to it in some circles thanks to the 1996 Vince Vaughn vehicle (and cringey cult classic) "Swingers," where "money" as an awkward middle-aged-guy-trying-too-hard synonym for "cool" features prominently in quotes like "You're so money and you don't even know it!"

    My initial take when I saw the meme was that "cash money" is a creatively-intensified version of that usage that trades on the redundancy to produce the intensification. "That was so money. CASH money." I don't really hear it as a "death of cash" thing, there's otherwise no prestige put on cash over plastic (if anything, cash is seen as an inconvenient anachronism). One reason it's so memeable is that it's simultaneously tin-eared and novel. It sounds like the sort of thing that a dorky person would make up to try and sound cool, which in turn gives it kind of ironic coolness that comes from unselfconsciously and confidently owning your dorkiness.

  16. BZ said,

    March 12, 2020 @ 11:38 am

    As a big Madoka Magica fan, I am somewhat chagrined that I am unaware of this meme, nor am I sure why Sayaka Miki would be the most appropriate character for this.

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