Pony up, meaning to pay money, especially a payment that is in arrears.
Origin: “Pony up” is very much an American phrase and most people in the USA will know its meaning, whereas elsewhere in the English-speaking world the expression is rarely used. In the UK we are more likely to ‘stump up’ and in Australia and New Zealand money is ‘fronted up’. So what have ponies got to do with paying money?
A pony is of course a small horse and that meaning has been in use since the mid-1600s. The word has several other slang meanings, including:
- A small measure of alcohol (British, first documented in 1708)
- A short crib sheet or study aid (American, 1827)
- Twenty-five pounds (British slang, 1797)
- An abridged news report (American, 1877)
In the 1950s, ‘pony’ was also adopted as Cockney Rhyming Slang for ‘rubbish; nonsense’. The full version of the rhyme is ‘pony and trap’ – and I’ll leave it to you to figure out what ‘trap’ rhymes with.
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