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Cent (currency)

A United States one-cent coin, also known as a penny

In many national currencies, the cent, commonly represented by the cent sign (a minuscule letter "c" crossed by a diagonal stroke or a vertical line: ¢; or a simple "c") is a monetary unit that equals 1100 of the basic monetary unit. Etymologically, the word cent derives from the Latin word "centum" meaning hundred. Cent also refers to a coin worth one cent.

In the United States and Canada, the 1¢ coin is generally known by the nickname penny, alluding to the British coin and unit of that name. In Ireland the 1c coin is also sometimes known as a penny in reference to the Irish penny, worth 1100 of the Irish pound that was replaced by the euro in 2002.


A cent is commonly represented by the cent sign, a minuscule letter "c" crossed by a diagonal stroke or a vertical line: ¢; or a simple "c", depending on the currency (see below). Cent amounts from 1 cent to 99 cents can be represented as one or two digits followed by the appropriate abbreviation (2¢, 5¢, 75¢, 99¢), or as a subdivision of the base unit ($0.99).

The cent sign has not survived the changeover from typewriters to computer keyboards (replaced positionally by the caret). There are alternative ways, however, to create the character (offset 162) in most common code pages, including Unicode and Windows-1252:

The cent sign has Unicode code point:

  • U+00A2 ¢ cent sign (HTML ¢ · ¢),
  • U+FFE0 full-width cent sign (HTML ).

Usage of the cent symbol varies from one currency to another. In the United States and Canada, the usage ¢ is more common, while in Australia, New Zealand and the eurozone, the c is more common. In South Africa and Ireland, only the c is used.

When written in English, the cent sign (¢ or c) follows the amount (with no space between), in contrast with a larger currency symbol, which is placed before the amount. For example, 2¢ and $0.02, or 2c and €0.02.


Mints in developed countries usually create coins with values between the equivalent of approximately US$0.05 and US$5, while reserving banknotes for higher values. As inflation lowers the value of currencies, many have replaced the lowest-valued banknotes with coins (Canadian dollar, Australian dollar, pound sterling), removed the lowest-valued coins from circulation, and/or introduced higher-valued bills. The US dollar is a notable exception, using a $1 bill along with a (less-popular) coin, whereas most other industrialized nations use solely a coin for the approximate equivalent value (and greater).

Other monetary unit subdivision systems are possible, such as the British pound sterling, which until decimalisation in 1971 was subdivided into 20 shillings (s), of 12 old pence (d) each, making a pound equivalent to 240 pence.

Examples of currencies around the world featuring centesimal (1100) units called cent, or related words from the same root such as céntimo, centésimo, centavo or sen, are:

Examples of currencies featuring centesimal (1100) units not called cent

Examples of currencies which do not feature centesimal (1100) units:

Examples of currencies which use the cent symbol for other purpose:

  • Costa Rican colón – The common symbol '¢' is frequently used locally to represent '₡', the proper colón designation


  1. ^ See Alt code for more information.
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