late 14c., "one hundred," from Latin centum "hundred" (see hundred). The meaning shifted 17c. to "hundredth part" under influence of percent. It was chosen in this sense in 1786 as a name for a U.S. currency unit (the hundredth part of a dollar) by the Continental Congress. The word first was suggested by Robert Morris in 1782 under a different currency plan. Before the cent, Revolutionary and colonial dollars were reckoned in ninetieths, based on the exchange rate of Pennsylvania money and Spanish coin.
updated on October 26, 2017
Dictionary entries near cent