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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Piastre \Pi*as"tre\, n. See Piaster.


n. 1 (context now historical English) A Spanish or Spanish-American coin and unit of currency, originally worth eight real. 2 A form of currency originally used in the Ottoman Empire, and now used in the Middle Eastern countries of Egypt, Lebanon, Sudan and Syria.

  1. n. a fractional monetary unit in Egypt and Lebanon and Sudan and Syria [syn: piaster]

  2. 100 kurus equal 1 lira [syn: kuru, piaster]


The piastre or piaster is any of a number of units of currency. The term originates from the Italian for "thin metal plate". The name was applied to Spanish and Hispanic American pieces of eight, or pesos, by Venetian traders in the Levant in the 16th century.

These pesos, minted continually for centuries, were readily accepted by traders in many parts of the world. After the countries of Latin America had gained independence, pesos of Mexico began flowing in through the trade routes, and became prolific in the Far East, taking the place of the Spanish pieces of eight which had been introduced by the Spanish at Manila, and by the Portuguese at Malacca. When the French colonised Indochina, they began issuing the new French Indochinese piastre (piastre de commerce), which was equal in value to the familiar Spanish and Mexican pesos.

In the Ottoman Empire, successive currency reforms had reduced the value of the Ottoman piastre by the late 19th century so as to be worth about two pence (2d) sterling. Hence the name piastre referred to two distinct kinds of coins in two distinct parts of the world, both of which had descended from the Spanish pieces of eight.

Because of the debased values of the piastres in the Middle East, these piastres became subsidiary units for the Turkish, Cypriot, and Egyptian pounds. Meanwhile, in Indo-China, the piastre continued into the 1950s and was subsequently renamed the riel, the kip, and the dong in Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam respectively.

Usage examples of "piastre".

As long as I stayed at Rome the nine piastres a month came in regularly, but after my departure he returned to Rome, went to another convent, and died there suddenly thirteen or fourteen years ago.

I complimented him on the immense wealth he had inherited to enable him to live so splendidly, but he laughed and told me that he did not possess fifty piastres, that his father had left nothing but debts, and that he himself already owed three or four thousand crowns.

He objected, but I convinced him with a couple of piastres, and by agreeing to use the post horses and to spare his own animals.

At every step they parted with a steady stream of lire, piastres, paras, and copper medjidies, coins which delighted the boys with their inscriptions in Turkish and the strange Sign of Osman.

Captain Aubrey time to write his dispatch for the Dryad to carry to the Commander-in-Chief, a long and detailed account of his proceedings, together with a request for more Marines for the final assault, at least two sloops for diversionary actions and to prevent reinforcements and supplies being thrown into Marga from Corfu, and for money to enroll three troops of Mirdites and one of Moslem Ghegs for three weeks at nine Argyrokastro piastres a calendar month, they to find themselves in arms and victuals: Jack had little hope of the sloops, but it was thought that he .

I calculated that as two hundred piastres were assigned to each as a dowry in case of marriage, the founder must have calculated on two marriages a year at least, and it seemed probable that these sums were made away with by some scoundrel.

The following day Dantes presented Jacopo with an entirely new vessel, accompanying the gift by a donation of one hundred piastres, that he might provide himself with a suitable crew and other requisites for his outfit, upon condition that he would go at once to Marseilles for the purpose of inquiring after an old man named Louis Dantes, residing in the Allees de Meillan, and also a young woman called Mercedes, an inhabitant of the Catalan village.

I complimented him on the immense wealth he had inherited to enable him to live so splendidly, but he laughed and told me that he did not possess fifty piastres, that his father had left nothing but debts, and that he himself already owed three or four thousand crowns.

As might be expected, the men who solicit the cardinal for our hands are either madmen, or fellows of desperate fortunes who want the two hundred piastres.

Five times during his profligate career imprisoned for abominable crimes, he only succeeded in procuring his liberation by the payment of two hundred thousand piastres, or about one million francs.

Monsignor Guerra had paid the thousand piastres, and Giacomo had given his consent.

Yet he had to pay a house-tax of five piastres, a war-tax of five piastres, a camel-tax of five piastres, a palm-tax of five piastres, a salt-tax of nine piastres, a poll-tax of thirty piastres, a land-tax of ninety piastres.

As soon as his engagement with the patron of The Young Amelia ended, he would hire a small vessel on his own account -- for in his several voyages he had amassed a hundred piastres -- and under some pretext land at the Island of Monte Cristo.

If the venture was successful the profit would be enormous, there would be a gain of fifty or sixty piastres each for the crew.

Jacopo, expressed great regrets that Dantes had not been an equal sharer with themselves in the profits, which amounted to no less a sum than fifty piastres each.