a Canadian one-dollar coin (see Image 1).
Type: 1. Origin — The coin was introduced in 1987 and almost immediately acquired this nickname (see the three 1987 quotations) because it has a loon on one side (see Image 1). The loon design was chosen after the dies with the first design were lost (see the first and third 1987 quotations) and the actual release of the coin did not go as planned (see the third 1987 quotation). The "looniness" surrounding its origins may have encouraged the term's entrenchment.
See also COD-2, s.v. "loonie" (1), which labels this meaning "Cdn", OED-3, s.v. "loonie", labeled as "Canad. colloq."
See also: toonie loonie store
- The 1989 quotation offers interesting information on spelling variants, which, by that time seem to have already been decided in favour of loonie.
- 1987  The mint had hoped to save $43.50 by sending the dies through a local letter courier firm instead of a high-security armoured service such as Brinks.
Instead, a whole new coin had to be designed with a loon on the face to replace the traditional voyageur in a canoe that has adorned Canadian "silver dollars" since 1935.
The new coin, already dubbed the "loonie-buck" by dealers, is intended to replace the paper dollar-bill which will be withdrawn from circulation in 1989.
- 1987  The British coin is about the same size as the new dollar coin, dubbed the "loonie" because it is engraved with a picture of a loon. But the two-pence piece is worth only about five Canadian cents.
- 1987  Much looniness, it seems, accompanied the Royal Canadian Mint's introduction this month of Canada's new $1 coin.
So it is only fitting, says Murray Church, the mint's communications director, that the nickname Canadians have coined for the new metal buck, the Loonie, has quickly become accepted into the vernacular.
Mint officials and their minions have compiled a few of the stories circulating about the 11-sided, gold-colored Loons.
"So many unexpected things have happened," Mr. Church said.
A few "unexpecteds" - not including the embarrassing loss in November of the master dies for the coin with the original Voyageur design - occurred before the June 30 official launch.
The introduction of the coin, the biggest change in Canadian currency in 50 years, was to have been simultaneous from coast to coast, occurring on the eve of Canada Day. [...]
Several hundred Loonies were set loose on Monday, June 23, a week early, and the looniness continues to spread.
- 1988  They're small. They look good. They fit into parking meters and fare boxes. But when it's down to the crunch, they still can't be found.
Phil Sarazen has changed all that. Last summer the Ottawa inventor designed the first wallet made especially to hold loonies.
It's the perfect answer for a city that has mixed feelings about the new coin. Some find it convenient for vending machines, others find it only adds to the heavy load of change that accumulates every day.
- 1989  "Loony" is one of the ways the name of the new $1 coin has been spelled. But this spelling is more likely to refer to a member of Britain's Official Monster Raving Loony Party, similar to Canada's Rhinoceros party.
Another spelling is "looney," a word more associated with Warner Brothers' Looney Tunes cartoon series.
"Loonie" is more and more the standard Canadian spelling for the coin.
It's not yet a complete synonym for "dollar." But the word is gaining ground. And it's starting to displace other coins in such expressions as "cars that can turn on a loonie" instead of a dime.
It's not quite standard across Canada. Larry Emrick, national editor at The Vancouver Sun, reports that British Columbians tend to call the coin a "loon" rather than a "loonie."
- 1990  Council's most outspoken opponent of hiking the fare a dime to $1.35 cast a key vote Monday - in favor of forcing Calgarians onto a loonie, quarter and dime combination diet for transit's ticket-vending machines.
- 1996  Host-and-a-half Bruce Steele (Canada's answer to Phil Donahue, although no one asked the question) gets out of a limousine, flips the driver a loonie and tells us, for the 7 millionth time, that What On Earth "doesn't just entertain, it informs and inspires as well!"
- 2012  Among the most basic of coin tricks is the so-called money multiplier. The magician shows his audience a loonie, say. He then appears to pull the coin apart with his fingers, and, abracadabra, the one loonie is transformed into two toonies. One dollar becomes four dollars.
2 n. — Finance, informal
the Canadian dollar.
Type: 1. Origin — See COD-2, s.v. "loonie" (2), which labels the meaning ""Cdn".
- 1991  Earlier this week, bank governor John Crow said that in general the bank, to stabilize the value of the dollar, uses foreign currency reserves to buy dollars when the loonie is losing value and does the opposite when it's rising in value.
"The Bank of Canada is always intervening to smooth out fluctuations," Scotiabank economist Warren Jestin said.
- 1997  "A low inflation rate is comforting to consumers and to people's willingness to spend," said Randy Scotland of the Retail Council of Canada.
Economists were quick to point out that November's inflation rate also sends a tempering message to the Bank of Canada, which raised interest rates twice in the past month to shore up the ailing loonie.
"It puts the Bank of Canada in a really strange position," said Ruth Getter, chief economist at the Toronto Dominion Bank.
- 2000  Reports continue to swirl out of the national capital suggesting Ottawa is prepared to offer up to $5 million per team annually until the NHL's collective bargaining agreement with its players comes up for renegotiation in 2004. Skyrocketing player salaries and the low value of the loonie compared to the American dollar have four of Canada's six NHL franchises in financial straits.
- 2005  The loonie is appreciating and international trade is booming. The price of oil has meant serious increase in revenue for Newfoundland and Labrador, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and most significantly Alberta.
- 2007  On Thursday of last week, the US dollar and the Canadian loonie reached parity for the first time since November 1976.
- 2015  The two saving graces for Teck are low oil prices and the falling exchange rate. The low loonie benefits the company as its realized coal prices in Canadian dollars are well above the listed prices in U.S. dollars.
3 n. — usually plural, informal
money in general.
Type: 1. Origin — An extension of meanings 1 and 2.
- 1996  Save your loonies and go for it! It has become the fashion event of the year.
- 2007  If we truly want to reduce our carbon footprints in order to sustain our greedy lifestyles, or rather, our very way of life, we must begin to shop locally. Instead of driving several kilometres to a big-box retailer in order to save a few pennies on something (like pet food) that's made in China, perhaps we should put our loonies where our mouths are and commit to spending our hard-earned, high- taxed currency in neighbourhood stores -- with Canadian-owned ones being an even better choice.
- 2012  Two entries ago in this space, I revealed how many loonies some members of your city council earned while serving as directors at Metro Vancouver.
The extra change, I'm sure, is appreciated by the likes of Vision Vancouver Coun. Tim Stevenson, who last year pulled in $24,000 for his Metro duties on top of his $64,000 councillor's salary.
Image 1: A loonie. Photo: S. Gaylie