Who put the $ in Ke$ha? Where did the $ come from?

KeshaFrom the California dance band !!! to MIA spelling out her name in dashes, musical artists seem to love putting symbols in their names. Perhaps none more notable than pop star Ke$ha, who differentiates herself with a single letter substitution.

Born Kesha Rose Sebert, the singer/songwriter/rapper simply exchanged the “s” in her first name with a $ (or dollar sign). The artist initially made the switch at the beginning of her career as an ironic nod to the difficult financial straits she experienced when she was still a struggling waitress in Los Angeles.

Coincidentally, part of the dollar sign’s evolution began in the place where Ke$ha decided to put the symbol in her name. The current leading etymology holds that $ was originally derived from an abbreviation for pesos, meaning “weight” in Spanish. In the middle 1700s the peso was traded in all regions under Spanish control, from Southern California to South America, and the sign was commonly contracted as “ps.” Many historians believe that the dollar sign we know today was born from the bad handwriting of merchants who allowed the line “p” to fall in front of the s.

There is however another camp of scholars who think that the dollar sign originated from a far more deliberate abbreviation of peso. Originally referred to as the “piece of eight,” the peso came to represent the Bolivian eight-sol and Peruvian eight-real coins. With this history in place the S in the modern dollar sign was thought to represent the numeral 8 with the bisecting line meaning that the 8 was cut in pieces.

Though we may never know the true origin of the dollar sign, Ke$ha might be pleased to know that by putting it in her name she has gained something in common with one of her personal icons, the emperor of pop himself, Prince. In 1993 Prince changed his name to a symbol a combination of the signs for male (♂) and female (♀) that he dubbed “the love symbol.” Both popular etymologies of the $ involve the combination of two symbols, be it an S and P or a figure 8 with a bisecting line. This etymological similarity will surely be good news for the artist who sneaked into Prince’s house when she was a teenager to try to slip him her demo.

What do you think of Ke$ha’s extra $? How would you incorporate a symbol into your name?


  1. Alex Kintzer -  December 9, 2012 - 6:31 am

    I don’t think you really can change my name to be rapp-y, but I think it would be really cool to have a æ in my name.

  2. Elaine2090 -  December 6, 2012 - 4:17 pm

    mine is E1a!ne not that great..

  3. Mogs -  November 29, 2012 - 8:05 pm

    M011y. Not ver exciting

  4. SHayes -  November 14, 2012 - 9:51 am

    Some of her songs I don’t get, but I understood tic tock when I heard it because it so fits me. :D~

  5. SexyCakes358 -  November 12, 2012 - 10:02 am

    I aint gonna front but……………………………


    U GO GURL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. fabgirl -  November 11, 2012 - 2:19 pm

    The first time I read Ke$ha in a magazine I thought it was a typo.

  7. Michaela -  November 3, 2012 - 12:34 pm

    GUYS! Michael Jackson was not the “King of Pop” he was:
    1.) Maybe king of pop rock aka Crack
    2.) King of child molesters (really, semen in a daycare room in his house)
    3.) and really? RIP MJ! no… HE LITERALLY KILLED HIMSELF DERP!!!
    4.) He’s been dead since i was in 5th grade… 8th grade now… really get over it…
    5.) Everything with his name on it is a marketing scam

  8. Michaela -  November 3, 2012 - 12:19 pm

    [~Mi¢k@yy!a~] Yep, just that amazing. My name is Michaela (pronounced McKayla)

  9. calypso -  October 31, 2012 - 3:38 am

    i really dont get ke$ha. and i really dont get her song cannibal. :P

  10. SHayes -  October 24, 2012 - 11:42 am

    Don’t know don’t care. The $ is a replacement for the s and to me it’s more creative and she is one of many of my fave singers. You go Ke$ha. :D Tic toc. that song so fits me lol. I so wish I was right now.

  11. chocolatechips12347 -  October 23, 2012 - 1:39 pm


  12. Brad in NY -  October 23, 2012 - 5:55 am

    If the idea was to use her good looks to promote sales of mediocre dance music, they would have done better putting her in a swimsuit calendar or featured in an issue of Maxim magazine.

  13. Ed -  October 21, 2012 - 5:38 am

    Did no one notice that the article did NOT refer to Prince as the “King of Pop,” but as the “Emperor of Pop?” There’s a difference, ladies and gentlemen!

  14. Archon -  October 19, 2012 - 7:48 pm

    What *extra* $? Without the (only) one she’s got, it would be Keha, or perhaps Ke ha.

  15. CharyAnna -  October 19, 2012 - 11:20 am


  16. joe -  October 19, 2012 - 8:32 am

    It is not an ‘EXTRA’ $! It is just ‘ONE’ $! Sheeeesh.

  17. Eric -  October 18, 2012 - 1:07 pm


    Geez was it hard to find that 3rd symbol. (It still resembles the CAP eye though.)

  18. Sammy -  October 17, 2012 - 10:26 am

    Mich@3l J@ck$on, XD, is the King of Pop!
    Michael Jackson

  19. megan -  October 17, 2012 - 9:28 am


  20. Hillary -  October 17, 2012 - 9:24 am

    I would be H!llary :)

  21. Ke$ha fan -  October 17, 2012 - 9:18 am


  22. Ke$ha fan -  October 17, 2012 - 9:18 am

    Look guys, please leave her name alone! :-(

  23. Kate -  October 17, 2012 - 9:01 am


  24. Nishtha -  October 17, 2012 - 8:23 am

    I think i like P!nk more than Ke$ha…

  25. D. d@ $!Lv@ -  October 17, 2012 - 1:27 am

    $€R!0u$ly??? …

    Who cares??? An entire analysis on why someone puts a $ in her name??? … guess, someone had to much time on his/her hands … get a proper / real job!

    … oh, I was going to look for the sign for the Indian Rupee for the “R” but can’t be bothered …

  26. Michelle -  October 16, 2012 - 7:21 pm

    Well I guess Ke$ha is okay excepts for her lyrics… It’s not positive enough and it adovacates some bad lifestyle as well as some party rocking concepts… Not that good for adolescense! The songs themselves are okay.

  27. Adam -  October 16, 2012 - 7:09 pm

    or P!nk

  28. me -  October 16, 2012 - 6:36 pm

    in the mtv show when I was 17 she was asked ” where did that dollar sign come from?” she said she had an event at Shakey’s Pizza and they ran out of S’s so they put a dollar sign to replace the S. It stuck i guess

  29. The Epic1 -  October 16, 2012 - 5:39 pm

    Ke$ha i$ like totally epic!!!! :}
    u go girl!

  30. A1!N@ -  October 16, 2012 - 5:06 pm

    It’s Alina, very cool Ke$ha but isn’t putting the $ in your name kinda random?

  31. Pie -  October 16, 2012 - 3:03 pm


  32. sherryyu -  October 16, 2012 - 2:33 pm

    idk about u guy but keshas pretty cool

  33. AmeliaLorrainePhillis -  October 16, 2012 - 12:34 pm

    Why is she doing this? It doesn’t tell us where the $ sign originated from, so we have no idea where she even got that. I hate that so much! But super cool! This website rocks!

  34. SandraD -  October 16, 2012 - 12:33 pm

    On my way to looking up “lichen” i stumbled upon this. Why?

  35. DD Alter -  October 16, 2012 - 10:55 am

    I luv ke$ha!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :) :) :): ) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :)

  36. rachael -  October 15, 2012 - 9:31 pm

    -_-’ … actually, the $ sign has evolved from the version which had two ||’s through the S (as you can see on Ke$ha’s cover). The two ||’s, too, evolved from something else- It was a thin capital U put over an S- for United States.

  37. David -  October 15, 2012 - 8:27 pm

    D@^!D !

  38. elite27 -  October 15, 2012 - 7:01 pm

    I thought that Ke$ha got her name when she sang Right Round with Flo Rida. So yeah that makes more sense then putting it in there for hard economic times. And she put it there before she was a $inger? No. Why would she do that its not like doing that will help her get more job offers. This article is wrong and Ke$ha has the occasional good song.

  39. bahijah -  October 15, 2012 - 4:13 pm

    i think $he$ weird but i $till like her music

  40. Briana -  October 15, 2012 - 3:39 pm

    …I’m almost saddened that people took this article so seriously …

  41. Penis -  October 15, 2012 - 1:54 pm

    Ke$ha’s $ong$ are kinda cool

  42. toby -  October 15, 2012 - 1:14 pm

    TΦby TΘBY TOB¥ TOßY TδBY TφßY « kφΘl

    I don’t really know who Ke$ha is, though. Just saw the article.

  43. -joshua! -  October 15, 2012 - 12:11 pm

    I always sign my name with an exclamation.
    Also, I believe the city of Hamilton, Ohio was officially Hamilton! for a time.

  44. Eve -  October 14, 2012 - 10:03 pm

    I was always told that it was originally a thin U over an S, as in United States dollar, which slowly became the $ of today due to laziness to draw the whole thing.

  45. Avalon -  October 14, 2012 - 6:37 pm

    Okay, I think that it’s really cool. But not only did I learn a lot about the symbol from this article, I also learned things about Ke$ha that I didn’t know before. For one thing, I can’t believe she went from a struggling waitress to an insane pop star.
    How I could incorporate a symbol into my name? A-V-A-L-O-N. Avalon. Avalon. How about Aval0n. If I every become famous, I’d change the O to zero so I don’t let the stardom go to my head :) and remember that I came from 0, nothing.

  46. Hugh -  October 14, 2012 - 6:22 pm

    The article focused mainly on the origin and use of $, with Ke$sha’s name merely serving as an example. It was pretty pointless to even put her in the title.

  47. Lauren -  October 14, 2012 - 5:23 pm

    £@Ʊ®€N !

  48. Ray -  October 14, 2012 - 5:11 pm


    Were I of foreign inclinations, I could try, ₹a¥₪¤₦₫ or ₹a¥₥¤₦₫…

    (We’ll see whether these work web-versally; Bing and google are about equal on this one.)


    P.S. I’ve tried matching my name to the Egyptian gods, Re-amun, etc.


    P.S. Perhaps Kesha wants to distinguish herself from Ksh a Kenya shilling.

  49. Jessica -  October 14, 2012 - 4:49 pm

    Je$$ica Evan$ what now?!?!

  50. Ray -  October 14, 2012 - 4:35 pm

    Maybe her name is enunciated by her friends, Keisha, ei=ā, so she writes, Ke$ha, or maybe she’s accommodating the word, Geisha, but not being a geisha, pronounces it, Keisha, and writes Ke$ha; and all in the house that Prince, built… (chanted to “The house that Jack, built”)

    She’d have had a choice– acacia, an expensive wood, geisha as above…

    Probably just a childhood game that, when grown up, looked promising….


    Prince, purportedly at that time, was trying to get out of a contract burden, and chose that symbolic name (legally changed, we heard) as his ‘crystal bridge over troubled waters’… (Reminds me of a Reader’s Digest story of some woman who wanted to remarry without bringing her prior husband’s debt, so she did it in the nude inside a closet with a heart-symbol hole for her hand to reach through to accept the ring… an amusing story anyway.)

  51. Girl -  October 14, 2012 - 1:39 pm

    Dollar in her name hasn’t bought her any talent though

  52. Bianca -  October 14, 2012 - 1:09 pm

    Who is Ma$e?!?

  53. Bianca -  October 14, 2012 - 1:07 pm

    Ke$ha i$ totally awe$ome

  54. Serena -  October 14, 2012 - 11:35 am

    Look, $eren@

  55. Angeli -  October 14, 2012 - 11:01 am

    Lets not forget that Ma$e did it far before Ke$ha did

  56. Christina CC -  October 14, 2012 - 10:48 am

    In the beginging, I usually watch TV on the countdown about Ke$ha`s old songs -what I like is called “Your Love is my Drug,” and “Tic-Toc.” I will
    never forget the memories in common for life so far. YAH!!!!!

  57. jim -  October 14, 2012 - 9:06 am

    The # symbol looks like an H and it is used in musical notation (sharp), why did she use the $ rather than a musical symbol?

    I remember being asked in English class to answer the question ‘why did the poet write this?’ and ‘because he wanted to publish a book of poetry and get paid’ was a valid hypothesis (that we quickly rejected).

    I’m not sure you can reject that hypothesis of her body of work. Such vast quantities of creative work (including this) are now made freely available I wonder why anyone expects to be paid.

  58. paulina -  October 14, 2012 - 8:23 am

    well you chris inthe name of Ke$ha it looks way cooler than it does in mase. ok you……………

  59. Parker -  October 14, 2012 - 7:41 am

    There’s also a claim that the $ came from the superimposition of the letters standing for the United States, a U over an S with the bottom of the U left off.

  60. R. Cane -  October 14, 2012 - 6:48 am

    I was gonna say the same thing, Chris, which is probably where she got it from but as soon as I saw the article I figured they’d conveniently forget to mention Ma$e….

  61. lolo -  October 14, 2012 - 6:38 am

    She also could have just thought it looked cool…

  62. Philip -  October 14, 2012 - 6:03 am

    “…an ironic nod to the difficult financial straights she experienced…”

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but from memory, that should be “straits”.

  63. Will -  October 14, 2012 - 5:24 am

    Oh, that’s humorous; a dictionary website that uses an incorrect word. It’s “difficult financial straits”, not “straights”!

  64. ninjathewrecker -  October 14, 2012 - 5:12 am


  65. Selina -  October 14, 2012 - 3:24 am

    Haha it is kind of funny. I don’t remember the story correctly but she was in a party, and they had a banner which congratulated kesha and the banner misspelled her name by a dollar sign!!!! Haha it was pretty funny…

  66. Fate -  October 14, 2012 - 12:30 am

    Considering no one’s ever heard of Ma$e (as illustrated by you having to explain who he is), I doubt there’s anything to forget.

  67. Angela -  October 13, 2012 - 11:09 pm

    Um Prince was never The King of Pop….Michael Jackson will always be the prince of pop…….

  68. Raz -  October 13, 2012 - 7:36 pm

    It works with her image. She’s a glitzy, trashy, hot girl who sings dance music, and so the symbol works. The symbol thing doesn’t work so well for people who sing classier music, but hey, Ke$ha is pretty and daring. Perhaps not to everyone’s taste, but you gotta admire her stones, people. Let’s just roll with it, shall we? Let’s hear your complaints, people with boring names. We all know you’re just jealous. Kidding.

  69. footface -  October 13, 2012 - 7:23 pm

    And let’s not forget that the epithet “King of Pop” refers to Michael Jackson, not Prince.

  70. Marco -  October 13, 2012 - 5:26 pm

    Ma$e? Brother please. Too $hort was doing it a decade before Mase. Mase adding the $ was one of many elements of his “style” that he borrowed/stole from others.

  71. brian -  October 13, 2012 - 5:19 pm


  72. ameiob -  October 13, 2012 - 3:43 pm

    The $ does not come from pesos. It comes from ‘United States’ which was stamped on money bags as a U on top of an S. Later it became two lines instead of a full U and finally one line.

  73. Sam -  October 13, 2012 - 2:36 pm

    it is cool

  74. Katie -  October 13, 2012 - 12:06 pm

    also, i’m pretty sure Michael Jackson is the “king of pop.”
    it says so on a Pepsi can. haha!
    i’m not a fan of him or Prince.

  75. Jackie -  October 13, 2012 - 10:43 am

    Or $nitch

  76. Codie -  October 13, 2012 - 9:24 am

    i personally really don’t care for her anymore, and i found it rather low to sneak into Prince’s house, who is not the king of pop, Micheal Jackson is, everyone knows that. But i found the rest of the article quite interesting.

  77. bholland -  October 13, 2012 - 9:23 am

    The original dollar sign had two vertical bars in it. My understanding was that is was a combination of the letters “U” and “S” to represent United States currency. Had nothing to do with the peso.

  78. patricia matzen -  October 13, 2012 - 9:09 am

    i personally love ke$has name!!!!!!!!!!!! it tataly rocks outr! ttyl peeps!!!!!!!!!!

  79. Faith -  October 13, 2012 - 3:46 am

    Well, Ke$ha may have put a dollar sign in her name, but P!nk replaced the “i” in her name is put “!” in there instead. Kinda like Ke$ha eh?

  80. Rick -  October 13, 2012 - 3:34 am

    Don’t you mean “straits” rather than “straights”?

  81. Ryan -  October 13, 2012 - 1:38 am

    In Europe, is she called K€sha?

  82. Lesi -  October 13, 2012 - 12:45 am

    I think it was not really necessary but If it was MY name I won’t really want a $ but if it is, Le$i ta-da. I done it…

  83. Brett -  October 12, 2012 - 10:18 pm

    I’m a HUGE Prince fan, but he’s not the King of Pop. So to deliberately say “King of Pop himself” (which leaves little doubt to the narrowness of the designation) is factually incorrect. Of course, to say something like ‘pop icon’ or ‘greatest musician of all time’ or anything of the like would probably be acceptable. But, it is in fact Michael Jackson who is the “King of Pop” and he’s the only person who could warrant a comment like “King of Pop himself” . Though, as Seinfeld might say, I’m not sure how official all of these rankings really are.

  84. Yaxi -  October 12, 2012 - 6:55 pm

    I don’t really like Ke$ha. $he $ings bad mu$ic that encourage promi$cuity and licentiou$ne$$. $he $hould humble her$elf to a waitre$$.

  85. PT -  October 12, 2012 - 2:43 pm

    I used to think the $ was because her name is supposed to be pronounced CASH-ah… until I found out it’s pronounced keh-sha.

  86. Jason -  October 12, 2012 - 11:20 am

    Don’t forget “Le-a”, pronounced Lee-dash-a.
    Or as explained by it’s owner, “Da dash don’t be silent.”
    (True story.)

  87. Chris #2 -  October 12, 2012 - 10:04 am

    I forget Ma$e easily, but how could you forget P!nk who has been doing this for years?

  88. Thomas A Roshka -  October 12, 2012 - 10:02 am

    I sign my emails, greeting cards and notes t_OMMY! (spoken with the same enthusiasm as the character Timmy on the animated series South Park).

  89. svenjamin -  October 12, 2012 - 9:57 am

    I think Ke$ha is almost clever for doing so, yet it just makes me think that she only does what she does for the $ and not for any artistic sense of music. I also think my theory is strengthened by the fact that her music lacks any real thought except for “How can we market this attractive girl to sell albums?”

    As a side note, is it possible the $ symbol is really an abbreviation for ‘sol’ and not for peso? ‘$’ looks like it could be an ‘s’ with an ‘l’ overwritten and the ‘o’ dropped for brevity. This makes sense to me in that the dollar is one full unit of measuring money and so was the sol.

  90. Sarah -  October 12, 2012 - 9:48 am

    I think Ke$ha is an ok artist and she is an ok rapper, she has a beautiful voice and doesnt use it productively in her songs, she is a waste of talent some people would say…

  91. Steve -  October 12, 2012 - 8:42 am

    What an amazing article. Who new you could seque something so interesting from Ke$ha…

  92. KESHA | BLOGCHI@mayopia.com -  October 12, 2012 - 8:28 am

    [...] “KESHA” Meesha, Mouseketeers $ucce$$ is in the making — Pieces of 8 or Pizza 999 — Marketing for the taking. — The symbol of Democracy’s freedom. — Religiously rule breaking. — Freedom of the individual to be whomever One believes. — Us and Them and Mine — As yet Compassion Grieves. — Economic equality for Male and Female alike — Or some Wish Upon a Star — To get along with this Planet — Economically withholding — Nor religiously fearfully scolding — Through the Head a $pike. –>>L.T.Rhyme [...]

  93. SafetyJack -  October 12, 2012 - 7:49 am

    Shouldn’t it be “… difficult financial STRAITS …” instead of “…difficult financial STRAIGHTS…”?

  94. Joe -  October 12, 2012 - 7:29 am

    Who care$?

  95. Patrick Oliver -  October 12, 2012 - 6:54 am

    Looking good Kesha!

  96. vishnu -  October 12, 2012 - 5:49 am

    my favourite pop

  97. Miranda -  October 12, 2012 - 5:15 am

    Wait, is Prince really the King of Pop now? Apparently he ascended to the Pop throne after MJ died?

  98. Dolos -  October 12, 2012 - 4:56 am

    You guys are really just sad… I mean seriously, an article about Ke$ha? For real? I know you guys are trying to be all “hip and cool” to relate with the adolescents that browse this site, but this is just mediocre. Surely you could come up with something with more meaning than why Ke$ha choose to use a dollar sign?

    And even your response is mediocre, obviously the dollar sign originated from the serpent symbol, the vertical line being the rod, and the S being the serpent around it.

  99. Whei -  October 12, 2012 - 3:58 am

    Nice! but what about s5m for SAM?

  100. Sophie Liu -  October 12, 2012 - 12:18 am

    The $ (dollar sign) would fit in my name perfectly!!!

  101. Cody -  October 11, 2012 - 9:16 pm

    Prince is NOT the King of Pop. Maybe the Prince of Pop, haha. But the King of Pop is a title reserved for one and one person only—Michael Jackson.
    May the one true King rest in peace.
    Anyway, I didn’t know Spain used the Peso… interesting…

  102. Evan -  October 11, 2012 - 8:59 pm

    The artist formerly known as Prince?

  103. Distinction -  October 11, 2012 - 8:45 pm

    But I would read it as “Ke Dollar Ha”, not Kesha.

  104. emma -  October 11, 2012 - 5:50 pm

    go Ke$ha

  105. Olivia -  October 11, 2012 - 5:08 pm

    0 | ; \/ ; @

    lolz lets just write in leet! hey could u guys do an article about leet? that would be awesoem ;D

  106. luvmonkey -  October 11, 2012 - 5:04 pm

    I don’t really like her music, (but in a strange coincidence, one of her songs came on the radio just as I started reading this).

    I like P!nk better… :P

    I want to change my name to Whitney+

    I think it would look nice.

  107. Kelova Mer -  October 11, 2012 - 3:35 pm

    She’s just so dang rich she can afford to put a $ in her name.

  108. Maddy M. -  October 11, 2012 - 3:20 pm

    M@ddy, i guess. or Ma-D

  109. Cyberquill -  October 11, 2012 - 2:54 pm

    My rap name is P€t€r.

  110. Carlyyyyyyyyyyyy -  October 11, 2012 - 2:45 pm

    ©@®ℒ¥ <3<3<3<3

  111. Frank -  October 11, 2012 - 2:37 pm

    and Curren$y did it WAY before them as well

  112. Ganuja -  October 11, 2012 - 2:18 pm

    That’$ cool Ke$ha.

  113. SHO_pYn -  October 11, 2012 - 1:35 pm

    I have incorporated an underscore in my musical pseudonym “Sho_PyN” named after the famous composer Chopin’. I had two meanings when I originally concocted the idea, the first was an Ode to my favorite rapper Jay-Z who carries a hyphen and the second meaning was in regard to the fact I’ve scored do much music for so many artist without ever wanting any credit or notoriety.

  114. Chris -  October 11, 2012 - 1:29 pm

    Let’s not forget that Ma$e (Mason Betha) did it FAR before Ke$ha did though…


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