Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A piece of paper money issued privately and devalued by inadequate security or by inflation.
  • n. A piece of paper money of small denomination issued by the government, especially one issued by the U.S. government from 1862 to 1878.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Formerly, a jocose term for a bank note greatly depreciated in value; also, for paper money of a denomination less than a dollar.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A small square patch of brown paper, usually saturated with vinegar, tar, tobacco-juice, or the like, applied by poor people to sores on the leg.
  • n. Hence, humorously
  • n. A small paper note used as money; a printed promise to pay a small sum issued as money without legal security.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. paper money of little value issued on insufficient security

Etymologies

From its resemblance to paper used in plasters for sore legs.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From shin + plaster. Probably coined during the American War of Independence (1775–1783). Named for its resemblance to, and suitability for makeshift use as, a bandage for dressing the shin.[2] (Wiktionary)

Examples

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