Learn English – what does “lost a shilling and found a penny” mean


I am translating a British story and I came across this expression

"you look like you lost a shilling and found a penny". I am not sure I understand what it means.

Best Answer

A shilling and a penny are two increments of currency, where a shilling is made up of many pence (the multiple for penny when it is a unit of currency). As it happens, the shilling is no longer in use in Britain, so this is somewhat of an archaic saying.

Essentially though, the saying implies that you've found something less valuable than what you lost — or simply, that you look disappointed about something.

A more modern version of the saying might go: "you look like you've lost a dollar and found a penny".