from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun British money, especially the pound as the basic unit of currency of the United Kingdom.
  • noun British coinage of silver or gold, having as a standard of fineness 0.500 for silver and 0.91666 for gold.
  • noun Sterling silver.
  • noun Articles, such as tableware, made of sterling silver.
  • adjective Consisting of or relating to sterling or British money.
  • adjective Made of sterling silver.
  • adjective Of the highest quality.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun An obsolete form of starling.
  • noun See starling.
  • noun A silver coin struck by English (and Scottish) kings from the time of Richard I. (1190).
  • noun English money.
  • Of fixed or standard national value; conforming to the national standard of value: said of English money, and, by extension, of the precious metals: as, a pound sterling; a shilling sterling. Abbreviated ster., stg.
  • Of acknowledged worth or influence; authoritative.
  • Genuine; true; pure; hence, of great value or excellence.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective Belonging to, or relating to, the standard British money of account, or the British coinage
  • adjective Genuine; pure; of excellent quality; conforming to the highest standard; of full value.
  • noun (Engin.) Same as starling, 3.
  • noun Any English coin of standard value; coined money.
  • noun A certain standard of quality or value for money.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun the currency of the United Kingdom; especially the pound
  • noun former British gold or silver coinage of a standard fineness: for gold 0.91666 and for silver 0.925.
  • noun sterling silver, or articles made from this material
  • noun A structure of pilings that protects the piers of a bridge; a starling.
  • adjective of, or relating to British currency, or the former British coinage
  • adjective of, relating to, or made from sterling silver
  • adjective high quality

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

  • noun British money; especially the pound sterling as the basic monetary unit of the UK
  • adjective highest in quality


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

[Middle English, silver penny : possibly sterre, star; see star + -ling, diminutive suff. (from the small star stamped on the coin); see –ling.]


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  • to honor my sterling reputation (RME)

    September 15, 2007

  • "The German cities of Lubeck, Hamburg, Bremen and Cologne created the (Hanseatic) league for profits and protection. They were small compared to Venice. None could afford to secure an entire coastline on their own. They pooled resources and gave each other trading privileges. Danzig and Bruges joined the group, as did every port city in northern Germany. London, far away on the Thames, let the Hansa set up a walled compound near London Bridge complete with warehouses, barracks and a beer garden that competed with local taverns with its Hamburg ale and Rhenish wine. Hansa law influenced English maritime law. The coinage of the Hansa towns, the Easterling, inspired the English word 'sterling' and the word hansa inspired the name of the German airline Lufthansa."

    --Greg Steinmetz, The Richest Man Who Ever Lived: The Life and Times of Jacob Fugger (NY and London: Simon & Schuster, 2015), 86

    February 6, 2017