An Australian coworker of mine wrote, "The deposit is equal to a month's hire." I'm wondering whether "hire" in British English can mean "money you pay to hire (i.e. rent) something," as it is used here.
I'd appreciate your help.
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Yes, it can. Collins Dictionary includes the following among the definitions of "hire":
- a. the price paid or payable for a person's services or the temporary use of something
The use of "rent" and "hire" differs between British and American English. In American English, only people or services are hired. In Britain and Australia, "hire" is often used for vehicles and equipment.
If the item concerned is one that Australians normally "hire" rather than "renting", it is probably more natural for the speaker to refer to "a month's hire" rather than a month's rent.