from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- n. Lumps of pure silver bearing the stamp of a banker or an assayer and formerly used in China as money.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. An ingot of silver, shaped like a shoe, once used as currency in China.
from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English
- n. Silver, pounded into ingots of the shape of a shoe, and used as currency. The most common weight is about one pound troy.
from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. Properly, an epithet meaning ‘pure,’ applied to the uncoined lumps of silver used by the Chinese as money, but frequently used by itself, in the sense of ‘fine (uncoined) silver.’ See sycee-silver.
Chinese (Cantonese) saìsz, fine silk (so called because the pure silver can be spun into fine threads), equivalent to Chinese (Mandarin) xì, thin, fine + Chinese (Mandarin) sī, silk, thread.(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Said to be from a Chinese word for fine silk, because if pure the silver may be drawn out into fine threads. (Wiktionary)