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[ey-kyoo; French ey-ky] /eɪˈkyu; French eɪˈkü/
noun, plural écus
[ey-kyooz; French ey-ky] /eɪˈkyuz; French eɪˈkü/ (Show IPA)
the shield carried by a mounted man-at-arms in the Middle Ages.
any of various gold and silver coins of France, issued from the 13th through the 18th centuries, bearing the figure of a shield.
Origin of écu
1695-1705; < French; Old Frenchescu < Latinscūtum shield


[ey-koo or, sometimes, ee-see-yoo] /eɪˈku or, sometimes, ˈiˈsiˈyu/
a former money of account of the European Common Market that was used in international finance until the euro was adopted and was based on the combined prorated values of the currencies of member nations.
E(uropean) C(urrency) U(nit), perhaps with play on écu


English Church Union. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for ecu
Historical Examples
  • They drank their coffees, gave an ecu to the proprietor, and went out.

    Moorish Literature Anonymous
  • In which sport she was so taken up with her hands, that she forgot to cheat, and Denys won an "ecu au soleil" of her.

  • From ecu you have ecuyer;—from scutum scutiger, both passing into our English squire.

    The Eagle's Nest

    John Ruskin
British Dictionary definitions for ecu


/ˈeɪkjuː; sometimes ˈiːˈsiːˈjuː/
noun acronym
European Currency Unit: a former unit of currency based on the composite value of several different currencies in the European Union and functioning as both the reserve asset and the accounting unit of the European Monetary System; replaced by the euro in 1999


/eɪˈkjuː; French eky/
any of various former French gold or silver coins
a small shield
Word Origin
C18: from Old French escu, from Latin scūtum shield
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for ecu

old French silver coin, 1704, from French écu, from Old French escu (12c.) "shield, coat of arms," also the name of a coin, from Latin scutum "shield" (see hide (n.1)). First issued by Louis IX (1226-1270); so called because the shield of France was imprinted on them.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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