I saw in my a dictionary that one of the meanings of "bill" is a banknote. Because I don't such using I've checked also Cambridge dictionary

mainly us uk usually note a piece of paper money:

As I understand, the meaning of "a piece of paper money" is banknote. )If it is, I really don't understand why they don't write simply banknote.). My question is if it is common somewhere to use "bill" in meaning banknote?

*n.b. Anyway I understand that the most common meaning is a paper with request of money, like monthly expenses of having apartment (electricity, water etc.)


In the UK we pay bills with cheques. In the US they pay checks with bills. The two words, however spelt, cheques and bills, refer to different kinds of monetary obligations recorded on paper, in the days when people did not have credit cards.

If you are in the UK nobody would understand you if you referred to a ten pound note as a "bill". In BrE a bill is a demand for payment not a means for paying. It is absolutely never a bank note, whatever your dictionary may say.

  • 2
    While this is a cute way of explaining it. I pay my bills with checks and only refer to bar tabs or the bill for eating at a restaurant as a "check".
    – ColleenV
    Feb 25 '18 at 13:41

Yes, it is common in AmE in expressions like five/ten-dollar bill:

(North American English)

(British English note) (also banknote especially in British English)

  • a piece of paper money - a ten-dollar bill


See also Google Books


Bill is standard in the US when speaking of a banknote of a specific denomination:

I gave him a one-dollar bill, two-dollar bill, five-dollar bill, ten-dollar bill, twenty-dollar bill, and so forth.

Colloquially, however, denominations above two dollars are ordinarily referred just by the number

I gave him a five, a ten, a twenty, and so forth.

A one-dollar bill is ordinarily just a dollar bill. The two-dollar denomination is so rare that there is rarely any occasion to name it, but it will ordinarily be named in full:

Hey, whaddaya know, I got a two-dollar bill in change!


Google Ngram Viewer shows that 'dollar bill' is used more than 'dollar note', and 'pound note' is used more than 'pound bill'. 'Dollar


Bill is one of those words that have many meanings.

Yes, in the US, it is the standard description for a banknote:

a five-dollar bill

This is really specific to American English; in the U.K., you'd say "a ten pound note." (My answer is really based on American English.)

In crime movies, when someone demands a ransom, you can often hear:

a million dollars in small bills

Here, the Lifehacker website advises people to always carry $20 with them in small bills.

And yes, bills are those "invoices" you get every month for your utilities like electricity and the like. You could hear a phrase like:

He had to get a better-paying job because he had trouble even paying his bills.

When you hear "pay your bills", it's about those "invoices." A phrase with the word "pay" where "bill" would mean "banknote" would have to be "pay with a bill." E. g.,

After we finished our meal, we paid with a hundred dollar bill. (again, here it is the "banknote")

At the restaurant, when you are done with your meal, you'd say to your friends,

Let's get the bill.

This is again an "invoice" from the restaurant to you stating the amount of money that you should pay. In the UK, one would say, "let's get the check."

Other meanings of the word bill are:

— a poster with an advertisement that you put on the walls (in New York City, you will often see on fences that, e.g., surround a construction site, signs saying "Post No Bills"—meaning "do not put up advertisements");

— a specific law or a draft law.

  • 1
    Bar tabs and restaurant bills are also "checks" in the US... bills are typically for household utilities (at least the way the folks from my region talk).
    – ColleenV
    Feb 25 '18 at 13:45
  • @ColleenV Hearing a New Yorker (and a DC-based person (don't know where they're originally from)) say "let's get the bill" at restaurants on a rather regular basis. Canadians too. Feb 25 '18 at 18:55
  • 1
    Sure - it is sort of like soda & pop. Both are said but vary by region. When I read over the answers here, it seemed like folks were saying that "check" was only BrE, which just isn't the case.
    – ColleenV
    Feb 25 '18 at 19:53

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