Someone asked on the shoutbox when did we use Ringgit as a word? I got this information quite sometime ago and always wondered when do I have the chance to show it. Well, someone asked and finally here is the answer that I have kept all this while:-
Ringgit - The word ringgit denotes a unit of Malaysian (or Brunei) currency made up one hundred sens which displaced the respective English words dollar and cent used before. 'Ringgit' was already in the Marsden's Dictionary of the Malayan language published in 1812 which referred to it as a unit of currency. Abbot Favre's Malais-Francais Dictionnaire also contains this word, meaning a silver coin. 'Ringgit' originally meant a jagged or serrated edge or crenellation, e.g. 'beringgit-ringgit' - jagged or serrated. It is itself related to the word gerigi or rigi-rigi which means with notched or jagged edge like the teeth of a saw.
As to how coins came to be minted with serrated edges, it is necessary to go back a few hundred years into the history of coinage. The historic hammered coins had irregular edges and after being put into circulation, they were subjected to much abuse by unscrupulous tradesmen and moneylenders. These persons resorted to two generally known methods of reducing the metal content of these coins, one was clipping and the other sweating. Clipping involved shaving or clipping the edge, making the coin progressively smaller. Sweating was to put several coins in a fine leather bag and either shaking or jostling them which resulted in friction of the coins and thus fine particles of the gold or silver dust accumulated in the bag. After the founding of mechanical and therefore more efficient methods of producing coins, especially with the use of steam power, coins were struck with a raised rim or beaded rim. Some had a floral edge or an incused edge, others had a jagged or serrated edge.
From as far back at the 17th century European nations trading in the East had brought the silver dollar coin from the Spanish American mints as the coin of commerce in our part of the world. These round silver pieces had edges with a floral design. Later, coins of the Republic of Mexico were also introduced by the colonial government for use as currency in our lands. These heavy silver coins after some circulation in our territories came to be nicknamed 'ringgit' irrespective of whether they were from the Spanish American or Mexican mints. Thus the word 'ringgit' came to acquire a second meaning which was applied to all silver coins of either serrated or floral edges of the same size, weight and quality of silver.
Apart from generally calling these silver coins 'ringgit', local names were given to the different coins in use in Malaya such as 'ringgit patong' (British Trade Dollar) or ringgit geroda or matahari.
The word 'ringgit' appeared for the first time on the 5 dollar banknote of the Oriental Banking Corporation of Singapore as early as 1849. On Malay coins, the jawi script for 'satu ringgit' was first used on the reverse of the British Trade Dollar in 1895.
It can confidently be said, therefore, that the word 'ringgit', denoting a unit of Malaysian or Brunei currency, had been in use in this area for at least 200 years.