mad money

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mad money (uncountable)

  1. (idiomatic) A sum of money, often relatively small in amount, kept in reserve to use for impulsive, frivolous purposes.
    • 1975, "Baglets," Time, 10 Nov.:
      Ultrasuede minibags "are just the solution for waste." And for crime. Most minis hardly hold more than mad money and a comb.
  2. (idiomatic) A sum of money kept in reserve or to insulate oneself financially in the event of the sudden breakdown of a relationship in which one is economically dependent.
    • 1975, George Javor, "Mad Money: A Semantic Change," American Speech, vol. 50, no. 1/2, p. 155:
      Such an expression is mad money, noted as early as 1922 by Howard J. Savage (Dialect Notes 5:148) at the end of an article on Bryn Mawr slang. Savage's definition is 'money a girl carries in case she has a row with her escort and wishes to go home alone.'

See also[edit]


  • mad money at OneLook Dictionary Search
  • Random House Webster's Unabridged Electronic Dictionary, 1987–1996.