How did the word “budget” originate and What does budget mean?

When the word “budget” first came into use back in the fifteenth century, it meant a little wallet or purse, from the French bouge, purse, or bouget, little purse.

The diminutive sense died out, and budget, the anglicized word, was used for a purse of any size, especially for a purse made of leather.

It is a trait of our language, however, that the name of a container is often transferred to the thing contained, so budget shortly acquired another meaning also, the contents of a bag or wallet, including whatever papers it might contain.

Thus, in the eighteenth century, when the English Chancellor of the Exchequer “opened his budget,” as the Parliamentary phrase became, he was in effect opening his wallet or bag to extract papers pertaining to the public finance.

And when, in our own family circles, we make up our budget for the year, we are really examining the family purse to see how much it will receive during the year and how much of that we can spend.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

Leave a Comment