pin money A small amount of money set aside for nonessential or frivolous expenditures; an allowance given to a woman by her husband. When common or straight pins were invented in the 13th century, they were expensive and relatively scarce, being sold on only one or two days a year. For this reason, many women were given a regular allowance called pin money which was to be saved until the pins were once again available for purchase. In the 14th and 15th centuries, it was not uncommon for a man to bequeath to his wife a certain amount of money to be used for buying pins. Eventually, as pins became cheaper and more plentiful, the pin money was used for trifling personal expenses, but the expression persisted.
(Myriad thanks to Bonnie Taylor-Blake for accessing and examining the 1989 “Papa” citation and for pointing to the 2014 article by Wright. Special thanks to Frederick A. Wright for his valuable paper and for his pointer to a published version of the “Papa” play. Many thanks to Hugo for pointing out the important 1910 citation. Great thanks to Dennis Lien for obtaining scans of the 1992 cite. Additional thanks to my very helpful local librarians. Kind thanks to David Haglund, editor of the culture blog at Slate, for featuring and linking these results in an article at Slate.)
As the world watched Egyptians throng Tahrir Square to call for the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak’s regime, they turned their TVs to the Qatar-owned Al Jazeera. And Wadah Khanfar, the channel’s top executive for eight years before he stepped down this past September, is the one responsible for transforming the pan-Arab satellite network into the most influential media source in the Middle East and a revolutionary inspiration in its own right, giving voice to the long-suppressed aspirations of a new generation of Arab citizens.